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All Pam N«> *1 
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145 



Pablisbed monthly by the Fopnlar Fiction Fnbliehins Company* 8467 B. Washinsrton Street* 
Indianapolis, Ind. Bntered as second-class matter March 29. 1928. at the post office at Indianapolis* 
Ind., under the act of March 8* 1879. Sinsle copies. 26 cents. Subscription* $2.50 a year in the 
United States, $4.00 a year in Canada. EnsrHsh office; Charles Layell, 18* Serjeant's Inn* Fleet 
Street* B, O. 4 X*ondon. The pul^ishers are not responsible for the loss of unsoIMted maousciipts* 
although every care will be taken of sneh material white in their possession. The contents ot Uiis 
masazine arc fully protected by copyrifirht and must not be reproduced either wholly or in x>art 
without permission from the publishers. 

NOTE — All manuscripts and commnnioatlons should be addressed to the publishers* Chicago 
office at 840 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago. 111. 

FARNSWORTH WRIGHT, Editor. 

Copyright 1032, by the Popular Fiction Publl^lng Company. 


Contents for August, 1 932 


Cover Design T. Wyatt Nelson 

Illustrating a scene in "The Bride «f the Peacock" 


The Eyrie 148 

A chat with the readers 


The Bride of the Peacock E. Hoffmann Price 152 

A tale of devil-worship and the ghastly rhythms wherewith Abdul Mataak 
sought to accomplish bis evil will 


The Lair of the Star-Spawn August Derleth & Mark Schorer 184 

The story of a dread menace to mankind, and a hideous city on the long-lost 
Plateau of Sung 


[CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE] 


146 


OOPYRIQHTm XN GBEAT BBITAIN 


[(x>NTmx7BD VBtm twmaomQ page] 


The Maker of Gargoyles — dark Ashtos Sautfa 1S>8 

Tit tfP*y «i 4 nigitmtTt b«rwt hoted upon a mediaeml Pfenei vilhtft by 
Blaise Reytsiml tie stoete-ntter 

A Jifidoight Confession J, Paul Sitter 208 

At Htteily different ghost story — a teeitd simmons that tame from tie death 
cell ht the big prison 

Arkham Robert E. Howard 217 

Verse 

The Dork Angel — Seabury Quinn 218 

A poumful story aysteriofu deatht, and the marks of a gsgantic goat's- 
hoof found on the brows of the victims , 

Tlie Haunted Room Cristel Hastings 24J 

Verse 

The Phantom Hand (part 2) Victor Rousseau 244 

An astounding five-part novel of Black Magic, eery murders, and the king- 
dom of shadows 

No Eye-Witnesses Henry S. Whitehead 259 

Everard Simon had a weird experience in Plathush vjhen his shoes were 
raked with blood and forest mold 

Old Clothes * John D. Whiting 265 

> A short, strange tale about an old inventor who learned the truth about life 
from his marvelous radio receiver 

The Ardafiend’s Fingers Kirk Mashbom 267 

John Po wers blundered into a weird adventure during the Mardi Gras tar- 
nivai in New Orleans 

Pirate’s Hoard Alfred I. Tooke 270 

Verse 

Weird Story Reprint: 

Frankenstein (part 4) Maty WoUstonecraft Shelly 272 

A famous novel that for more than a century has been acclaimed a master- 
piece of weird horror 


Toe AdTCitiKbur Kates in WEIRD TAl^S Apply Direct to 

WEIRD TALES 

Western Advertlsini- Offlee: Central Ac'Tertislns Office: Elastem Advertising Offleet 


MORAIAN C. NODBSB: 
1031 8. Broadwair 
IdOS Anfreles, C^if. 


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300 V. Miohtgan Ave. 
Chicaq;Oy HI. 

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New York, N. Y. 
Phone, Omnkercy 5380 


t47 



I ETTERS are still pouring in to the Eyrie about the reprinting of serials in Weird 
. Tales. Frankenstein is liked by most of you who write in, but we have decided 
not to run Dracula when Frankenstein is ended, because too many of you 
have already read Bram Stoker’s great vampire novel. Those of you who suggest that 
we drop the reprint department entirely are so far only a small minority; but many 
of you think we should abandon the policy of using serials in the Weird Story Re- 
print department, a policy which we began last year by printing Alexandre Dumas’ 
interesting werewolf novel, Fhe Wolf-Leader. But the question is still open as to 
whether we shall reprint some of tlie lesser known weird novels. Let us hear from 
you on this question. 

"I wish to make a plea for the small town readers, of which I am one,” writes 
Donald Allgeier, of Mountain Grove, Missouri. "I am sure that there are many read- 
ers of your wonderful magazine who can not get Dracula or Frankenstein an)rwhere. 
For instance, in my home town we have a public library whidi opens twice a week. 
New books are a rarity, and to find the book you want you must search all the shelves, 
and probably diere is no copy of it there. I would probably faint if I found any 
weird novels there. And as for book stores, there are no such things here. One per- 
son here had a copy of Dracula, and as soon as this became known every one wanted 
to borrow it I was surprized to see the number of protests against your reprinting 
Dracula. 'Oh certainly, every one can get this novel at the library or the book store,’ 
tiiey say. But those who protest certainly do not live in small towns.” 

Ralph Slater, of Hobart, Oklahoma, writes to the %rie: "I am heartily in favor 
of your reprinting Dracula, Frankenstein and other weird classics in Weird Tales. 
Your magazine contains enough material exclusive of the reprints to satisfy the read- 
ers that have already read them, and the reprints will make permanent friends of the 
readers that have not read them.” 

A letter from Richard Tooker, of Bismarck, North Dakota, says: "The current 
issue of Weird Tales makes it necessary for even the jaded reader to remaris that ' 
tfiere is something new under the sun. The vampire story is a peach, and Franken- 
stein is unbeatable. I urge the publication of Dracula and all the rest of the old mas- 
terpieces.” 

"Please do not publish serial reprints, especially Dracula," writes Harold Hay- 
worth, of Lynch, Kentudcy. "It is most effective when read all in one night. I would 

(Please turn to page 150)^ 
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150 


WEIRD TALES 


(Cpnrimed from page 14%) 

ISce to see Andreyeff’s tasums and Merritt's The Woman of the Wood in your xeprtirt 
section. Lazarus is, in my opinion, the greatest weird taie ever written.” [We haw 
already printed Lazarus in our Wdrd Story Reprint department. — The Editors.] 

Writes Robert C Sandisoo, of Denver: “My vote is emphatically for reprints, biri 
personally I rather favor Tories over novels. Prrmhenstein, for instance, drags ter> 
ribly, and so does Dracula. But on the other hand. The Wolf-Leader was a pippin. 
If all serials could be like that, I don’t see how anyone could object. So many of die 
very old stories, thou^, seem rather ludicrous nowadays. There is Poe’s story, 
Berenice. After reading the adventures of de Grandin, I, for one, was more incOsod 
to lau^ than to shudder at the idea of a maniac digging up a body, even diough 
a living one, and pulling all die teeth out of it What I actually did was yawn.” 

Frederick John Walsen, of Denver, writes to die Eyrie: "I have ever been an 
ardent reader of your unsurpassable magazine, and have been delighted with every 
issue. It is a real joy to read the stories, as dwy ate most certainly the best of weird 
fiction. The best story that you have ever publidied was one by Robert E. Howard, 
a fine audior, called Kings of the Night. The current issue of Weird Tales is the 
finest yet. There were three outstanding stories therein, namely, The Brotherhood of 
Blood by Hugh B. Cave, The Last Magician by David H. Keller, and The Nameless 
Mammy by Arlton Eadie. Of these three, perhaps the best was The Last Magician.’' 

Harold Dunbar, of Chadiam, Massachusetts, writes to the Eyrie: “I found it ex- 
ceedingly difiicult to select between The Ghoul Gallery and The Brain-Eaters for 
ranking place in the June issue. After long thought, I feel that the h<mor should go 
to the Hugh B. Cave story for its vivid descriptive passages and masterful climax. 
This author has a fine rolling style and a depth which few writers of weird fiction 
can rival. His Brotherhood of Blood in die May issue (which went into my file of 
stories worth saving) was outstanding for human interest and brilliant color, and 
now the author has shown remarkable versatility in presenting a grim and diuddeiy 
type of horror with equal effectiveness. I hope we nuy have more of Mr. Cave. The 
Brain-Baters, by Frank Bedmap Long, Jr., easily takes second place, and Seabury 
Quinn’s serial Aird. Hie final paragraph of dark Ashton Smith’s little story, The 
Weird of Avoosl Wutboqquan, should be classed among the few great dimaxes of 
all time.” 

"Please accept this as another vote against reprinting the book Dracula,” writes 
Ernest H. Ormsbee, of Albany, New York. "I have a copy of Dracula in my library, 
and each of my friends who read weird stories has one. The public library reading 
rooms have copies; so it does not seem as though there would be many readers of this 
type of fiction who are unfamiliar with this great story. But I will second the request 
of a recent reader who asks that some other story by Bram Stoker be substituted.” 

“I am delighted to see Hugji B. Cave’s name in Weird Tales,” writes Doctor 
Frank L. Mead, of Medford, Massachusetts. "I never read the magazine before and 
was surprized at the array of talent. I have been reading Cave’s stories since they 
first appeared in ’Classmate’ some years ago. His stories get one, if you see what I 
mean. Give The Brotherhood of Blood a vote for me and put The Ghoul Gallery 
down as even better.” 

(Please turn to page 271 ) 



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HERE THEY ARE 

I . The TftUey of Miseingr Men— 
Head how Parkinson dt8COTl^fed 
this baffiins mystery — a story pul- 
satinsr with bair<^al8ins inoidents. 

а. Raff— A cub reporter and a 
death mystery — a story that 
works up to a crashing otlmax. 

3. The Triangle of Terror — A 
goosefleah story that wtll send 
the cold shivers up your spine. 

4. Crimson PopiriM— Dr. Howes 
evolvoB a flendish plot to inherit 
the wealth of a luhatlo million^ 
aire. 

б. The Sign of tile Toad — An 
eerie detective story, full of ex- 
citing situations and znjrsterious 
deatba 

6. The Mystery at BagleLo dg e 
Soul-gripping, fascinating, tensoi 
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7. The Web— This tale threads 
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of the Peacock 

By E. HOFFMANN PRICE 

A powtrful toeird HOvele$te of devil-worship and the hellish underground 
fastnesses where Abdul Mdaak and his crew concoct 
their ghastly rhythms 



ADEMOISELLE,” said Pierre 
d’ Artois after a oaoment’s re- 
flection, "there is really no rea- 
son for your being alarmed at repeatedly 
dreaming that you are opening a grave. 
After all, a dream 

"Monsieur" she demanded, "does one 
in a dream break one’s finger nails? Just 
look!” 

She thrust her hands, fingers extended, 
squarely before our eyes. The nails were 
ragged and broken, and beneath them 
was a distinct trace of verdigris. 

"I left them just as they were this 
morning, verdigris and all, to show you 
how r ve been pawing at that door again. 
My new slippers and gown were tom, and 
soiled with green mold from kneeling 
before it. It’s driving me mad!” 

In her eyes was a terrible, haunted look 
that made them a starless, somber mid- 
night. 

Pierre d’ Artois studied first the slim 
white fingers with their marred nails, and 
then the dark, surpassing loveliness of 
Diane Livaudais. 

"But where do you walk?” asked d’ Ar- 
tois. 

She shrugged her faultless shoulders, 
and made a despairing gesture of the 
hand. 

"If I only knew! But I don’t. First 
there was some one talking to me in my 
sleep. Though I couldn’t ever recollect, 
exactly, what the voice said to me, I 
always had the impression when I awoke 
that there was a grave that I was to open. 

122 


And somehow I felt that it was Bienne 
who called me. You know. Monsieur 
d’ Artois, I was very fond of Etienne, and 
living in that house he gave me, it was 
only natural that I’d have him on my 
mind.” 

"When,” queried Pierre, "did Etienne 
give you that house on Rue Lachepaillet?" 

"It’s over two years ago. Several 
months after he disappeared, I received a 
letter from him, from Marrakesh, saying 
that he was seriously wounded, and that if 
he died, he wanted me to live in his house 
on Rue Lachepaillet. Then, a month or 
so later, I learned tfiat he was dead. Just 
a clipping from a paper in Marrakesh — 
a French newspaper, you imderstand — 
and a note in Arabic, which I had Doctor 
Delaronde translate. It confirmed flie 
clipping, saying that Etienne’s last words 
had been that he wanted me to have his 
house in Bayonne and the personal effects 
in it. 

"So,” she continued, "living in that leg- 
acy, and missing him terribly, I would 
easily dream of him, and woke with the 
sense of having heard his voice. I felt his 
presence, as though he were seeking to 
speak some final thought that his friend 
had not included in that scrap of Arabic 
script.” 

"By the way,” said Pierre, "have you 
those bits of paper?” 

And then, as Mademoiselle Livaudais 
took them from her handbag, d’ Artois 
continued, '"Ilie voice became more in- 
sistent?” 



THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


133 





■'VitTft^s hlad* pro^ecud a foot beyond hh 
opponent’s hack." 


“Yes. Thou^ it wasn’t really a voice. 
I would awake with the feeling that scrnie 
one had given an order. An overpower- 
ing will forcing me to some vague task I 
couldn’t quite remember except for some- 
how associating it always with a grave. A 
task I couldn’t accomplish and couldn’t 
evade.” 

“And always Etienne’s presence?” 

“Yes and no,” she answered. "I don’t 
know. An oppressing confusion. A dom- 
inant, crushing will. Not like Etienne at 
all. He was domineering — you may have 
known him — but not in that remorseless 
way. He loved me. Almost as much as 


I loved him. But this is relentless, inhu- 
man. Yet I sense Etienne in it. 

"And . . .” She again extended her 
fingers, '"niis proves that just last ni^t 
I was trying to open the door of a vault. 
As on so many other nights. Gown tat- 
tered. Slippers soiled. Verdigris under 
my nails. I’m weary. Weary to deatfi.” 

"You should have seen me sooner.” 

"It was so outrageous. So I kept it to 
myself. But now I want you to find out 
where I am going, and why, before I lose 
my mind entirely.” 

Pierre rose and from a drawer in his 
desk took a tiny vial, a part of whose 


154 


WEIRD TALES 


amber-colored contents he poured into a 
small, stemmed glass. 

"Drink,” he suggested. "It is a sed- 
ative. It will make you relax. You must 
relax. Look me full in the eye . . . bet- 
ter yet, look intently at the ring on my 
finger . . . then think of nothing at 
all. . . .” 

I noted then that Pierre had seated his 
visitor so that she faced a strong, glaring 
light. 

"You are weary from trying to remem- 
ber. . . . Cease trying, and it will come 
to you. . , 

Pierre's voice was droning monot- 
onously. 

"Don’t try to remember . . . you are 
weary . , . weary . . . weary of try- 
ing . . . think of nothing . . . noth- 
ing . . . nothing at all,” he persisted in 
soporific accents. 

H er eyes were staring fixedly at the 
stone that flamed and pulsed daz- 
zlingly on Pierre’s hand. I’d never known 
Pierre to wear a diamond of any kind, 
much less that obtrusive, massive clot of 
fire. 

Her lips half parted, and her breath 
came very slowly and rhythmically in ca- 
dence to Pierre’s measured, purring sylla- 
bles. 

She was in a trante, induced by a drop 
of a hypnotic, and Pierre’s compelling 
will. 

Again he spoke, still with that murmur- 
ing monotony. 

"You are sleeping . . . soundly . . . 
deeply ... so deeply that you won’t 
waken until I call you. ... Do you un- 
derstand.^” 

"Yes,” she murmured, "I won’t awak- 
en .. . until . . . you calL” 

Then Pierre spoke in a voice of com- 
mand. 

“It is now last night. 'The voice is 
speaking. Repeat it to me!” 


Pierre leaned forward. His long fin- 
gers gripped the carved arms of his chair. 
Perspiration aopped out on his brow, now 
cleft with a saber-slash of a frown. Diane 
stirred uneasily, made a gestiure of pro- 
test. 

"You will speak and tell me. I com- 
mand and you must obey!” he said sol- 
emnly and deeply as the chanted ritual 
of a high priest. 

I myself was ready to leap or yell from 
the terrific tension that moment by mo- 
ment had been becoming mote and more 
acute. I sensed a Power that was ham- 
mering at Pierre through Diane’s resist- 
ance. 

Then Pierre prevailed. 'The tension 
eased. She spoke in painfully clear-cut, 
mechanical syllables: and in Persian! Not 
the colloquial Persian of which I knew a 
smattering, but the rich language of the 
old days. 

"Now, answer,” demanded Pierre, "as 
you have been answering.” 

"Etienne,” she began in French, but 
as mechanical as before, "I can’t find the 
spring. But I’ll return tomorrow ni^t 
and try again ... I can’t understand 
what you are saying . . . the drums are 
too loud, and tiiey don’t want me to un- 
derstand. ...” 

Etienne, Marquis de la Tour de Ma- 
racq, not dead in far-oflF Morocco, in some 
obscure tomb beyond the red walls of 
Marrakesh, but buried in one of the 
crypts that honeycomb the foundations of 
Bayonne. And she spent her nights an- 
swering him, and seeking him. 

"But it couldn’t be. 'The dead don’t 
chant from their graves. It must be the 
hysteria of a woman mourning a dead 
lover,” I insisted to myself as I heard 
those outrageous words. 

And then I looked at Pierre. My in- 
sistence mocked me. He trembled vi- 
olently. His lips moved soundlessly, and 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


155 


be He w«s exerting his 

wpretne effort; hut not anotlier word 
OHild he drag from Dime. Pierre was 
heaten to a standrtill. 

He relaxed, and sighed deqily. 

"Never to be too much damned rev- 
enant, I will meet you face to face, and 
you wHI speak to me!" he exclaimed. 

He smiled that grim, cold smile I once 
saw on his face as he crossed blades one 
unforgotten night with one who on that 
night ceased to be the roost deadly swords- 
man in France. 

Pierre struck his hands sharply together. 

"Enough! Awaken!” he ordered. 

And, as Diane started, and blinked, and 
kx)ked confusedly about her: "Tell me, 
mademoiselle, do you understand Per- 
Sian? 

"Of course not,” replied Diane. "But 
why?” 

"You spoke Persian when I asked you 
to repeat ’’ 

"Oh, did I say anything?” 

"Mats, certainement! I commanded, 
and you spoke. And half the population 
of hell’s back yard fought to break my con- 
trol. But you spoke. Listen!” 

Pierre repeated Diane’s words. 

"Did 7 say that?” she demanded inaed- 
ulously. 

"Indeed you did, mademoiselle,” I as- 
sured her. 

"Why, who ever heard of such a 
thing?” 

"J, for one,” affirmed Pierre. "An il- 
literate servant girl, delirious from fever, 
chanted ancient Hebraic, to the mystifica- 
tion of the doctors. It developed, finally, 
that she had once lived with the family of 
a German savant, and used to hear him 
reciting Hebraic texts; and this was im- 
pressed upon her subconscious mind, 
which was released in her delirium. 

"Similarly, some one has spoken Per- 


sian, ehfaer to your ear or to your mind at 
some time. 

"Tell me, did y<w ever hear this, m any 
language?” 

And Pierre recited: 

'‘When 1 «m dead, open iny grave and see 
The smoke that auls about thy teeti 

In my dead hean the fire still burns for thee: 
Yea, the smoke rises from my winding sheet.” 

Diane shuddered. 

"Beautiful. But ghastly!” 

As for me, I had heard and often ad- 
mired that macabre Persian conceit. Yet 
this time an evil lurked in the amorous 
fancy that Hafiz chanted to some girl in a 
garden of Shiraz nine hundred years ago. 

"And you replied, ‘I can’t find 3ie 
spring.’ You said that the drums kept you 
from understanding. You did well to 
come to me. I will fight this to a finish, 
i/s or mine.” 

"Do you really think it’s Etienne calling 
from his grave?” 

Diane asked this question in a hesitant 
voice, abashed at her outlandish query. 

"Mademoiselle,” replied Pierre, "I am 
an old man, and I am none too positive 
iffiout the impossibility of anything. Yet 
if he is speaking from Satan's throne 
room, I will find him and silence him, for 
no honest lover would haunt you Ais 
way.” 

Pietre rang for his man, Raoul. 

"My good friend, Landon, will join me 
in this campaign. We will be your guard- 
ians. Raoul will drive you home. And 
Ais evening we may see you, London 
and I!” 

Diane graciously offered her hand. 

"Monsieur d’ Artois, and you. Monsieur 
Landon, have restored my courage. I 
feel ever so much better. And do call to- 
night if you wish. A bientot!” 

WiA a wave of her hand, and a smile 
for Ae moment free from Ae shadow of 
Ae grave, she followed Raoul to Ae Lssot- 
ta coupe. 


156 


WEIRD TALES 


“■piERRE," I said as the door clicked be- 

i hind Diane, "when she was in that 
trance, you might have commanded her to 
ignore the voice.” 

"Not at all! That would be like put- 
ting a plaster cast over an ulcer. I must 
rather find and exterminate the cause of 
this outrageous thing that talks to her 
and makes her sleep a wandering night- 
mare. Never think that she told us more 
than a fraction of what she does and hears 
and says in her sleep. Something fought 
me face to face as I commanded her to 
speak: and as she spoke, I suddenly lost 
control.” 

"The devil you say! I felt it my- 
self. . , . Do you believe ” 

"Anything is possible in Bayonne,” re- 
plied Pierre. "Anything may thunder and 
whisper from the ancient night of the pas- 
sages and labyrinths that undermine Ba- 
yonne. Bayonne was founded by the Ro- 
mans, whose legionaries worshipped Mith- 
ra and Cybele in subterranean crypts. The 
Saracens, the Spanish, the French, the Bear- 
nais have made this the playground of 
armies, and have enriched the earth with 
dead. This is all soil well raked over, and 
alive with strange seeds. Apostate priests 
have chanted the terrible foulness of the 
Black Mass, and mediasval necromancers 
and thaumaturgists have pursued their 
crafts in those unremembered red pas- 
sages and vaults. 

"Sometimes the Church hounded them 
to the surface, and roasted them at the 
stake, good and evil alike: but more re- 
mained intaa than ever were unearthed. 

"I myself once saw a vault opened up 
when builders excavated for the founda- 
tion of a house, many years ago ” 

Pierre shuddered. 

"It is not so much what I saw as the in- 
ferences I was compelled to draw. Now 
from beliind some brazen gate a Presence 
commands Diane to enter. Her dead 


lover calls her to God knows what terrible 
festival among the dead. Or .Something 
impersonates the dead Marquis, for some 
purpose beyond imagining, some linger- 
ing trace of an ancient force that has come 
to life and strengthened itself through 
feeding on her susceptible mind. 

"And now please dispense with my 
company while I study various things. 
Notably this clipping, and this scrap of a 
note. 

"Those Partagas cigars are at your el- 
bow, and there is a decanter of Atma- 
gnac.” 

So saying, Pierre left me to my own re- 
sources. 

I PROWLED about his study, peering at 
the titles of books ranged row after 
row on their shelves; scrutinizing the clus- 
tered simitars, ripple-edged kreeses, keen 
tulwars, and the sheaves of lances and as- 
segais standing in a comer. And here and 
there were epees, with their bell guards 
and slim, three-cornered blades: each a 
trophy of some encounter of Pierre’s 
younger days, when the duel was not the 
comic opera affair it is today. 

Raoul entered, presented Pierre’s com- 
pliments, and left a tray of cold meats, 
cheese, and a bottle of thin, dry wine. 
Strange, how a fellow that keeps such ex- 
cellent brandy would have such terrible 
sour wine! But it wasn’t so bad . . . 
and neither was Bayonne . . . with a 
quiet month or so the most of which was 
to be devoted to acting as Pierre’s second 
in fencing with a dead marquis who de- 
claimed the Diwan of Hafe from his 
grave in Marrakesh. But I didn’t blame 
the marquis. That girl would make any 
one turn over in his grave! 

And then Pierre reappeared. 

"I see that you have survived those 
sandwiches ^ I’ americain whidi Raoul 
constmeted. Good! But I have a task for 
you.” 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


157 


"Lead on,” I replied. 

"Alors, my good Raoul will drive you 
to Mademoiselle Diane’s house, whet© you 
will take your post at the door of her bed- 
room. You will stand watch, and if she 
walks in her sleep, follow her, even to the 
fuming hinges of hell’s bade door, but by 
no means wake her. And here,” he con- 
tinued, "is a pistol and a dip of cartridges, 
and a flashlight.” 

I thrust the Luger into my hip-pocket, 
tested the flashlight and found it in good 
order. 

"It seems,” I commented, "that we ate 
not dealing entirely with dead men mut- 
tering in their graves.” 

"From what I learned — possibly I 
should say, inferred — ^while you were ab- 
sorbing the most of that decanter of Ar- 
magnac,” replied Pierre, "there is some- 
thing in what you say. In the meanwhile, 
keep your mind strialy on your work, and 
do not be too free with that pistol. I will 
be on hand later to relieve you, and I pre- 
fer not to have you riddle me in error.” 

"Shall we leave the door open?” 

"No,” answered Pierre, "I have a most 
accomplished pass key. A tantdt!” 

And Pierre returned to his holy of ho- 
lies to answer the telephone as I followed 
Raoul to the Isotta. 

“Tt^ONSiEUR LANDON," greeted the 
i-VA lovely Livaudais as she admitted 
me, "you don’t know how relieved I am 
diat Monsieur d’ Artois has taken things in 
hand. But what is he doing this eve- 
ning?” 

"Lord alone knows, beyond busily 
studying that clipping and that note from 
the marquis’ unknown friend in Morocco. 
And his telephone rang continually. He’s 
hot on the trail of something, or he 
wouldn’t have sent me to stand guard at 
your door tonight.” 

"Good God! Am I then in such dan- 
ger?” 


"By no means, I am here merely to 
follow you if you wander tonight.” 

"Splendid. Then I shall bid you good- 
night. Surely you’ 11 forgive my being such 
an anything but gracious hostess? You 
know, it’s been a trying day. ’There on 
the table is a decanter of Grenache, and 
cigarettes.” 

"Perhaps you might show me the 
switches that control the lights,” I sug- 
gested. "I prefer to watch in the dark, 
but I may need light in a hurry,” 

After showing me the switch. Made- 
moiselle Livaudais Sade me good-night. 
I selected the most imcomfortable chair 
in the living-room; not such a difficult 
task, with that array of somber teak, 
carved by artizans who, since they sat 
cross-legged on the floor, had no con- 
ception of comfort as applied to chairs — 
and set it near the bedroom door. Then 
I took a length of heavy thread Td 
brought for that purpose, and tied one end 
of it to the door-knob and the other to a 
heavy bronze ash-tray which I set on a 
chair at the other side of the door. ’Thus 
if she opened the door, and caugfit “le 
napping, die fall of the ash-tray would 
arouse me. !^ot that I expected to doze; 
but rather th^ I didn’t want to take any 
chances. 

I settled dowR to watch. It wasn’t like 
military sentry duty, where a moment of 
drowsiness might cost the lives of an en- 
tire outpost. 'There was nothing to do 
but sit there in that exquisitely carved teak 
strait jacket, with my reflections for com- 
pany. 

And I wasn’t the least bit drowsy. My 
mission effectively prevented that. I won- 
dered if the dead marquis materialized 
and led her to a hidden panel, or called 
from the street, or tapped on her window- 
pane. The whole thing was outrageous: 
so much so that the marquis murmuring in 
his grave occupied a much smaller place 


198 


WEIRD TALES 


in nay dioughte than ttiis exceedingly love- 
ly Diane. 

In fact, I began to think with decided 
disapproval of the nurquis; although, to 
be honest about it, he was handics^ped, in 
a way. 

And thus and thus. . . . 

Then I wondered at the sweetness that 
subtly pervaded the room. Strange I 
hadn't noticed it before. 'Well, those Par- 
tagas cigars of Pierre’s had been heavy 
enough to dull my sense of smell for a 
while. Certainly I’d not notice that del- 
icate perfume. Like the ghost of incense. 
The very ashes of an odor. 

I'm sure I wasn’t asleep, and haxln’t 
been even for a moment of that watch. 
And yet as I look back at it all, I couldn’t 
have been awake. 

Something was emerging from the 
darkness of Diane’s living-room. I sat 
there, contemplating the shadow that ma- 
terialized from the shadows, as though of 
all things in the world there was oodiiog 
more commcmplace than that the black- 
ness should coalesce into a shape. 

I regarded with mild curiosity the sil- 
very gleam that deliberately drew closer. 
I wondered what mummery was in prog- 
ress. 

It might of course be a knife. Perhaps 
I should really shift a bit to one side, or 
else it would pin me to the back of my 
chair. It came nearer. . . . 

Hien something within me snapped. I 
knew that I had been sleeping, with my 
eyes open and fully conscious. With a 
terrific start I moved, just in time to evade 
the stroke. 

The intruder instinctively sought for an 
instant to wrench his dagger free from the 
unyielding hardwood which held it fast: 
so that I had him well by the throat before 
he abandoned his weapon and met me 
hand to hand. 

He was lean as a serpent and long- 


armed as an. ape. But 1 eluded hb chitdi, 
and drove a fast one to hb jaw that sent 
him reeling back into the daiicness. It 
^ook him. It should have laid him out 
cold. But he came back for more. 

As he recovered and closed in, a fredi 
poniard in hand, I drew my pistol and 
fired. 

I saw him sag in the middle and crum- 
ple, riddled by that hail of lead at close 
range; saw another shape emerge from the 
darkness at my left. But before I could 
shift my fire, there was a heavy impact 
behind my ear: and tfien I saw nothing 
at all save abysmal blackness shot with 
livid streaks and dazzling flashes. 

"Where’s Pierre?’’ was my last diought 
as I met the floor, still clutching the pistol. 

I don't know how long I was out. My 
head was spinning crazily as I opened 
my eyes and saw Pierre regarding me with 
mingled solicitude and amusement. 

"So,” he railed, "I leave you on guard 
and here I find you, flat on your face. 
No matter! Your stout skul! seems none 
the worse. 

"But what happened to the corpse?” 
•queried d’Artob, as I clambered to lOf 
feet and dropped into a chair. 

"What corpse?” 

He indicated the pistol lying on the 
floor where it had slipped from my fin- 
gers when my grip had relaxed, and 
pointed at the empty cartridge-cases glit- 
tering on the rug. 

"Some one . . . how would you say 
it? . . . was polished off. You never 
miss.” 

Flattering, but true. 

'That dark splash that stained the pol- 
ished hardwood fl(X)r at the edge of the 
rug did indicate some one seriously rid- 
dled. 

It all came back to me. 

’"rhey crept up on me. I was asleep 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


159 


with my eyes open. I came to in the nick 
of time. And number two slugged me 
just as I accounted for number one.” 

I wrenched the poniard from the chair. 

"Lucky I snapped out of it/’ I con- 
tinued. "Good Lord, but I can’t under- 
stand how I watched that fellow slip up 
0*1 me without my moving until it was 
almost too late. I wonder if it could 
have been that perfume ” 

"What perfume.^” queried Pierre. 

I sniffed, twice, thrice. 

"Be damned, Pierre, but it’s gone. 
'That must have been it.” 

But d’ Artois was looking at the pon- 
iard, and had nothing to say about van- 
ished doors. 

"Mais regardez done! Here! Take the 
slant!” 

He pointed at the inlay in delicate 
hair-lines of pale gold that decorated the 
slim, curved blade. 

"Very pretty job of inlaying,” I ad- 
mitted. "Never saw a peacock more 
beautifully drawn.” 

"Imbecile!” fumed Pierre. "So it’s 
only a pretty bit of engraving to you, this 
peacock! But it’s a wonder Mademoiselle 
Diane hasn’t been disturibed with aH the 
rioting and shooting. Could she have 
walked out before our very eyes?” 

"No. Look at that string knotted to 
the door-knob and the ash-tray. It’s not 
been disturbed. She’s still asleep.” 

"Nevertheless, I must look.” 

Pierre opened the dexjr. 

"Death and damnation! She’s gone!” 
he exclaimed. "Walked right out before 
your eyes!” 

Gone she was. Not through the door 
I had watched. And not through the win- 
dows, between whose bars nothing larger 
than a cat could have crept.” 

"No, and not up the chimney,” an- 
nounced Pierre. ’"Iten where?” 


"Through the floor or the wall, per- 
haps,” I hinted. 

D’ Artois tock me at my word. On 
hands and knees he explored the floor 
and the tiled hearth, poking and thrusting 
about with the blade of his penknife, sedc- 
ing for some trace of a catch or spring 
whidi would release a trap-d(X)r or sliding 
panel. And then he devoted his attention 
to the paneled walls; but in vain. If 
there was any secret exit, secret indeed it 
was. 

But Pierre was by no means discour- 
aged. 

"Let this rest for the moment,” he di- 
rected, "and we will search the rest of the 
apartment.” 

"But,” I protested, "that isn’t finding 
Diane.” 

"Finding Diane,” he replied, "may not 
be the most important thing at present. 
She has been carrying on her nocturnal 
wanderings for some time, and from each 
trip she has returned. It is likely that she 
will return this time also,” 

"How about trailing those assassins tfiat 
nearly polished me off?” 

"Eminently sensible,” admitted d’ Ar- 
tois. "If we could follow them the trail 
would doubtless lead to the source of the 
deviltry. Your letting moonlight through 
one of them must have been most discon- 
certing. Look! 'They left through the 
d(X)r, and none too deliberately.” 

Pierre pointed at the trail of blood, and 
a footprint on the hardwood floor. 

"But this will have to be investigated by 
daylight,” he continued. "And that would 
advertise our moves to the enemy. Fin- 
ally, I suspect that the trail would be lost 
very soon after it is picked up in the street. 
Let us rather inspect this house of the 
dead marquis.” 

And while Pierre did the serious in- 
specting, I prowled about, admiring the 
antique Feraghan carpet that shimmered 


WEIRD TALES 


l£0 


silidly (Older my feet, the floor lanrp of 
saw-pierced damascene btasswork, the 
oddly carved teak statuettes from Tibet, 
curious bits of jade and lacquer: and on 
the mantel was a silver peacock with out- 
spread fan. 

“Look}” exclaimed Kerte, intemqi- 
ting my contemplatioo of the rare and 
strange adornments of the room. “Be- 
Iwld! Unusual, n‘est-€e pas?"^ 

1 tocdc the book he offered me, thumbed 
its pages. 

"What’s so unusual about that? Looks 
like Arabic or Persian. . . . Good God, 
Pierre, it’s bound . . . damned if it isn’t! 
Human skin!” 

"I saw that also. But I referred to the 
tide.” 

’’But that’s the back cover.” 

"Que voulez'vous? Where would you 
have it in such a language? But look at the 
title itself.” 

’’You forget that I can’t read this 
scratching,” I reminded Pierre. “Try it 
yourself.” 

^Pardon! Wdl then, it is entitled, 
Kitab ul Aswad," 

"Of course. Tlie Black Bode. Man- 
ifestly appropriate. Tide matches the 
color of Ae cover. Now this one,” I con- 
tinued, indicating a red-bound American 
best seller, "should be called Kitab ul 
Ahhmary 

"Idiot!” growled Pierre. "Have you 
ever heard of THE Black Book?” 

And to forestall any further irrelevant 
replies, Pierre opened the book and read 
aloud in sonorous Arabic: 

“Which is to say,” he translated, know- 
ing that the old, literary Arabic is too 
much for any but a scholar, "God created 
of fire seven bright spirits, even as a man 
lights seven tapers one after the other: and 
the chief of these was Malik Tawus, to 
whom he gave the dominion of the world 
and all that therein is: so that God steeps 


dreamlessly while bis viceroy rules at 
seemeth good to him" 

"Odd enough, ” I admitted, "but what 
of it? Except that the evening is super- 
abundant with peacocks. First they tty to 
ream me out with a blade inlaid wi^ a 
peacock; and then I stand here, admir- 
ing the silver image of a peacock on the 
mantel, and now you read me of Malik 
Tawus. Say, now, was that maltk or 
malaak?" 

"Malik," replied Pierre. "Although he 
has been called Maiaak as welL” 

"And you end,” I resumed, "by favor- 
ing me with a rich passage about ffie 
King, Lord, or Angel Peacock, according 
as the scribe splashed his reed or the tra- 
dition garbled the story ” 

"I heard something in her room,” Pi- 
erre interrupted. 

And Pierre, who had preceded me, 
halted and whirled to face me at Diane’s 
door. 

"She has returned. While we babbled 
of black books.” 

"Impossible!” 

"Then take a look,” challenged Pierre. 

I looked, and I saw. 

Diane lay curled up in her great can- 
opied bed, sound asleep. On her feet 
were satin boudoir slippers, tom and 
scarred and soiled. 

"She went, and she returned, before 
our eyes.” 

And then Diane spoke: but not to us. 

"I found the spring, Etienne. But I 
couldn’t move the panel. I’ll return to- 
morrow night. . . .” 

"Gewd Lord, it’s got her!” 

“Don’t wake her,” commanded Pierre. 
“Let her sleep. We’ve been outman- 
euvered. Alors, we will retire in confu- 
sion, get ourselves some sleep, and tomor- 
row — we shall see what we shall see.” 

W. T.— 1 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


161 


A fteh a later breakfast, Pierre and I 
t drove across the river to the Third 
Guard’s Cemetery, turned back to town, 
and then duou^ the Mousserole Gate, 
across the drawbridge, and into the hills. 
D’ Artois apparently was idling away his 
time; but having seen him open and smoke 
his way through the second pack of Bas- 
tos, which smelled no less of burning 
rags than the first pack, I knew that he 
was far from loa^g. Whenever we 
passed the obsolete gun emplacements, 
casemates, or lunettes in the surrounding 
hills, Pierre would slow up, stare a mo* 
ment, refer to a sketch, mutter to himself, 
and step on the gas again. 

"Vauban built that . . . and that also 
was erected by Vauban . . .” was the 
sum of his comments. 

We were retracing our course. 'The 
jovial, bearded and mitered statue of Car- 
dinal Lavigerie welcomed us to Place de 
Th^tre. 

"Doubtless we should pause for a 
drink.” 

‘The ants del oso is not so bad,” I sec- 
onded. 

But in vain. 

Pierre drew away from the curb, and 
thence to the left, skirting the park that 
lies outside the walls and moat on the side 
toward the Biarritz road. Again to the 
left, turning our backs to Biarritz, we 
headed into Porte d’Espagne and the old 
guard house, driving across the causeway 
that at this point blocks the moat. 

"Vauban, it seems, built the whole 
works,” I remarked. And then, "Hello! 

What’s this? Stop a moment ” 

But d’ Artois cleared the breach in the 
wall, utterly ignoring my desire to pause 
and look. 

And then he spoke: 

"Jackass! Do you fancy that I didn’t 
see those several men roaming abcHit the 
green between the edge of the moat and 
W. T.— 2 


the Spring of St. L6cwi with surveyor’s in- 
struments and the like? And ne^ I im- 
press upon you that they are by no means 
surveying, and that those instruments are 
by no means transits and levels? Alors, 
why need we pause and stare at those good 
men?” 

All of which suggested that Pierre 
knew more about the goings on at the 
Spring of St L6on than he cared to pub- 
lic in the papers. 

"Well, perhaps Vauban didn’t build 
the whole works,” I began, seeing that 
surveyors had been definitely dismissed. 
"I would imagine that we’d find the en- 
trance somewhere near the ancient part of 
the city, not far from the cathedral. Pos- 
sibly near that fountain ” 

"Erected on the site of the castle of the 
Hastingues, taken by assault in the 
Eleventh Century by the Bayonnais,” 
quoted Pierre mockingly from the guide 
l^k. 

I ignored the jibe, and continued, 
"And to find it, we’ll have to cover the 
ground stone by stone.” 

But Pierre was taking no hints that af- 
ternoon. 

"Impossible!” he exclaimed. "It would 
take weeks. And then we’d be too late.” 

"What do you mean, too late?” 

"Very much what I say, mon vieux. In 
a word ” 

Pierre’s gesture was painfully expres- 
sive. 

"Well,” said I, "the whole thing sounds 
like a Chinese dream. All of it.” 

"Un reve cbinois, do you say? Com- 
ment? Was it a Mongolian vision that 
came so close to pinning you to the back 
of your chair after you, an old campaigner, 
went to sleep with your eyes open an hour 
after taking your post? An Asiatic dream 
that you shot to ribbons when you awcke 
from your unaccountable sleep? We 
must work fast. And this time there shall 


162 


WEIRD TALES 


be no jugglery of taking her away and re- 
turning her under our very eyes.” 

"What do you propose?” 

"We will both stand watch in her 
room.” 

"After what happened last night,” I 
objected, "they may get both of us with 
some devil’s trick. Like that whiff of per- 
fume.” 

"I have considered that,” replied d’ Ar- 
tois. "And we will see. 'There was never 
a peacock hatched who can twice in the 
same way outwit Pierre d’ Artois. Nor is 
it likely that the enemy would repeat that 
same device. They have too many tricks.” 

R aoul admitted us. 

. "Monsieur,” he began, "a visitor is 
waiting for you in the study.” 

"Magnifque! And is she handsome?” 
"Mats, monsieur, he is a foreign dig- 
nitary. An emir.” 

"Then offer him a drink, and assure 
him that in but one moment I will have 
the honor of greeting him.” 

In Pierre’s study we found the guest, a 
lean, wiry fellow with a predatory nose 
and the keen eye of a bird of prey. A 
broad, seamed scar ran from his right eye 
to the point of his chin; and another 
stretched diagonally across his forehead. 
Strangely familiar mustaches fringed his 
lip. And then I-remembered that during 
the past few days I had fancied seeing 
foreign faces in Bayonne, where scarcely 
any face is foreign. Yet those were lean 
and swarthy in a different manner, and 
were set off with mustaches whose droop 
and cut were decidedly outlandish. And 
just this afternoon I intercepted a glance 
that was too casual to be convincingly 
casual. 

'There was nothing after all remaricably 
strange about those fellows. Only — 
well, they didn’t wear coat and trousers 
with the manner of those bom to our 
stupid costume. 


"Your servant,” began our visitor after 
a pause that was just long enough to be 
as impressive as his bow, "doubtless an- 
nounced me as Nmreddin Zenghi, an emit 
from Kurdistan.” 

He glanced sharply about him, stared 
at me for a moment, and found my pres- 
ence acceptable: all this while d’ Artois re- 
turned the emir’s bow with one of equal 
profundity and rigidity. 

"But in all fairness,” he continued, 
picking his words with just the suggestion 
of an effort, "I must confess that I am 
somewhat more than an emir. 'The fact 
of it is that I am ” 

He lowered his voice almost to a whis- 
per. 

"I am the Keeper of the Sanctuary.” 

"Ah . . . Monseigneur le " 

D’ Artois paused to select a suitable 
title. Propriety above all else, was Pierre. 

"Emir, if you must be formal. Mon- 
sieur d’ Artois. Although I am incognito. 
Extremely so, in fact.” 

"A votre service, monsieur I’emir,” 
acknowledged Pierre, and again bowed in 
his inimitable fashion, which I endeav- 
ored to duplicate as he presented me. 

It is difficult to bow elegantly while 
seeking to keep a couple of fingers near 
the butt of a pistol in one’s hip pocket. 

“As I said,” resumed our visitor, "I am 
Keeper of the Sanctuary at Djeb el 
Ahhmar, in Kurdistan, the center of the 
Faith. Viceroy, so to speak, of Malik 
Tawus.” 

Peacocks, I thought, were becoming 
monotonous. I thought of that dagger I 
had barely escaped last night, and that 
book in Diane’s parlor. 

"Moreover,” continued the emir, "I am 
a friend of France.” 

'The emir was impressive, but not ex- 
cessively coherent, I thought. But Pierre 
was equal to waiting without committing 
himself. 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


163 


"All of whidi I appreoate and respect. 
But pray continue, my Lord Keeper.” 

I wondered just what ax the emir 
wished to grind on the friendliness to 
France. 

"Therefore,” continued the emir, "I 
am here to sedc your aid in doing France 
a signal service, and at the same time 
overthrow a malignant impostor.” 

"A pretender, I fancy, to the custody of 
the Sanctuary?” suggested Pierre, fencing 
like the master swordsman that he was, 
with word and steel alike. 

"Precisely. And it will be very much 
to your interest to help me. Monsieur 
d* Artois, Indeed, the welfare of your 
'protegSe, Mademoiselle Diane Livaudais, 
is closely linked with my own success.” 

Pierre essayed a feint. 

"You mean, monseigneur, that you will 
lead me to the hidden vault where Made- 
moiselle Diane spends her nights seeking 
to riiter the presence that asks her to open 
his grave?” 

The emir’s brows rose in saracenic 
arches. 

'"ITiat is interesting, of course, but most 
obscure,” evaded the emir. "In fact, I am 
by no means certain that I understand 
what you have in mind. 

"But,” continued the emir, "this is 
what I have in mind: Abdul Malaak, 
who came from Kurdistan three years ago 
to seize the local sanctuary — ^yes, as you 
sutely have learned from the events of the 
past few days, the servants of Malik Ta- 
wus gather in conclave here in Bayonne — 
Abdul Malaak has succeeded in using his 
occult science to gain control of the mind 
and will of your protegee, Mademoiselle 
Livaudais. And when his control is com- 
plete, he will use her as an outside agent 
to operate in his cause in France, as a 
spy, tmearthing information from various 
prominent persons he will designate. She 
will to all intents and ptirposes be a diarm- 


ing, gifted woman, acceptable and ac- 
cepted in the best circles: but in fact she 
will be no more than an automaton, her 
every thought and word dictated by Ab- 
dul Malaak, who sits in a solitarium be>- 
hind the throne in the hall where the con- 
clave meets.” 

"Ah . . . indeed . . . most interest- 
ing, monsieur rSmir,” replied d’ Artois. 
"And is it presumptuous to inquire as to 
the nature of Abdul Malaak’s plans?” 

"By no means,” assured the emir. "I 
am a friend of France.” 

There was the stone. Now for the ax 
he wished to grind thereOn. 

“Abdul Malaak has assembled a circle 
of adepts in occult science,” explained the 
emir. "Some from Hindustan. Others 
from Tibet and High Asia. Many from 
Kurdistan and Armenia, and Azerbaijan, 
the land of fire. And each a master in 
the science of fundamental vibration. 

"To give you a crude example — 
though to a mind like yours, an example 
is scarcely needed — a company of troops 
on foot marching in cadence can wreck a 
bridge. The note of a violin string which 
is attuned to the fundamental vibration of 
a goblet will cause the goblet to shiver to 
fragments.” 

"Precisely,” agreed d’ Artois. 

"And going from the physical to the 
mental, let one man in a theater rise and 
shout 'Fire!’ there will be a panic. 

"Thus these adepts will concentrate in 
unison on whatever thought they wish to 
project: so that through the principle of 
resonance they will uncork the vast reser- 
voir of hidden discontent with society, re- 
ligion and politics that exists in France as 
in every country, and in the end effect the 
overthrow of established rule.” 

"As in Russia,” I interposed. 

"Exactly,” assented the emir. "You 
also are a person of rare comprehension. 
And, to bring us up to date, I was not 
amazed at what happened in Spain not 


164 


S)5TEIRD TALES 


long ago to the Bourbons. And being a 
friend of France, I am here to seek your 
aid in thwarting this powerful engine of 
destruction. Single-handed, I would be 
hopelessly outnumbered, for while I have 
friends in the circle, they have been cor- 
rupted by Abdul Malaak and turned 
against me.” 

“T T ERY well, monsieur I’ emir, I am with 

T you, heart and soul. But tell me, is 
it true that the Marquis de la Tour de 
Maracq is dead?” 

"Who says that he is dead?” countered 
the emir. 

"It has been written,” replied Pierre. 

"What is written may be history, or 
prophecy. Who can say?” 

tore one for the emir. He didn’t 
know whether Pierre was for or against 
the marquis. He was sure of Pierre’s in- 
terest in Diane, and in friends of France. 

"May I ask — and I trust again that I 
do not presume,” said Pierre, " — why it 
is that you are so anxious to thwart Ab- 
dul Malaak’s plans? I mean, you com- 
prehend, aside from your friendship for 
France.” 

'"That is simple. Our cult is divided by 
a schism. There are those who seek tem- 
poral power, and those who care only for 
peaceful spreading of the cult of Malik 
Tawus, the Lord of the World. We be- 
lieve that He has no need of or desire for 
political machinations in His behalf, and 
that in due course, the Lord of the Painted 
Fan will Himself assume the throne of the 
world, and exalt those who believe in 
Him — just as your early Qiristians said 
of the Nazarene. 

"Now be pleased to give me a pencil 
and paper. I will msdce you a sketch.” 

The emir hitched his chair up to Pi- 
erre’s desk. 

'This was a bit too good to be true. I 
remembered that saying about Greeks 
bearing gifts. The events of the past two 


days had likewise made me wary of altru- 
istic Kurds. I loosened my pistol. 

D’ Artois caught the move from the 
side of his eye, and shrugged his shoul- 
ders negligently. 

"Start at Porte d’Espagne,” began the 
emir, as he traced a line. "'Then ” 

But he spoke no further. 

Something flickered through the open 
window the emir faced. He pitched for- 
ward, clawing at his chest. I drew and 
fired, then leaped to the window, and 
fired again, not with any hope of hitting 
the figure that was disappearing around 
the first turn of the alley just as I pressed 
the trigger, but at least to give him my 
blessing. 

"Give me a hand,” said d’ Artois. 

The hilt of a dagger projected from the 
emir’s chest. He shuddered, coughed 
blood which joined the stain on his shirt- 
front. 

"Porte d’Espagne . . . to the left . . . 
great peril . . . take . . . many . . . 
armed . . . men ” 

He clutched the hilt of the dagger, tore 
open the front of his shirt, and with a 
final effort, snatched from about his throat 
a thin golden chain from which depended 
a tiny amulet: a silver peacock with tail 
fanned out and jewelled with emeralds. 

Neither d’ Artois nor I could under- 
stand the utterance that was cut off by 
another gush of blood. 

"Tout fni!” exclaimed Pierre. "He of- 
fered us this when he knew he couldn’t 
give us even another scrap of information. 
'This glittering fowl must be a token of 
admittance.” 

"Draw the shades!” commanded d’ Ar- 
tois. "And get away from that window. 
Likewise, stand guard until I return. On 
your life, admit no one. Not any one.” 

"The police?” I suggested. "I fired 
two shots.” 

"I will handle the police. No one must 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


165 


know that the Keeper of tiie Sanctuary is 
dead. As long as they are in doubt, we 
have a weapon against them: for they 
thought him important enough to kill him 
before he could tell his story.” 

As d’ Artois dashed out, I barred the 
door after him. 

I COULD hardly share Pierre’s optimism 
about the police. Here we had a 
stranger in the house, neatly harpooned 
with a knife. And what a story we’d have 
to tell! Some one tossed a dagger through 
Ae open window just as the Keeper of 
the Sanctuary was to explain where Diane 
wandered every night to claw at the door 
of a vault whose occupant commanded her 
to open his grave. Even an American 
jury would choke at a tale like that! 

I picked up one of the drab little things 
whiA in France pass as magazines, and 
come across an article on the prevalence 
of murder in the United States. 

"This is good,” I reflected. "Now here 
in law-abiding Bayonne, I sit peacefully at 
the door of a lady’s bedroom, and some 
one tries to dissea me with a nicely dec- 
orated dagger. 'The next day, a visitor 
has his conversation punctuated by a knife 
thrown through the window by parties 
unknown. ...” 

I shifted a bit more out of range of the 
window, and checked up on the cartridges 
in the Luger. 

"To crown it. I’ll get buck fever and 
let daylight through Raoul or Pierre when 
they enter. Or maybe they’ll find me 
here, deftly disembowelled and marked, 
'opened by mistake.’ 

"Open my grave and see the smoke that curls 
about thy feet ! . . .” 

I was developing a marked dislike for 
Hafiz. 'That old Persian was distinctly 
macabre. Then this one: 

"If the scent of her hair were to blow over the 
place where I had lain dead an hundred years, my 
bones would come dancing forth from their 
grave. . , ’’ 


’Then I wondered how Diane’s phan- 
tom lover tied into the psychic-vibration 
scheme of turning France upside down. 
Now that I’d mulled over the felonious 
assaults and successful assassination, I 
couldn’t help but have several thoughts 
concerning this exceptionally lovely Diane. 

The click-clack of the knocker startled 
me. 

"Qui vive?” I demanded. 

"It is I. Pierre,” came the reply. 

"Enter, with your hands in the air.” 

But I recognized the voice, and re- 
turned my pistol. 

"Eh bien, she is ’fixed. Monsieur le 
Prefet was reasonable.” 

"Do you mean that he swallowed that 
wild tale?” 

"Mm, certainement. Though there 
was of course some talk of what in your 
charming country one calls a lunacy com- 
mission; but in the end I prevailed.” 

T hat evening Pierre and I called on 
the lovely Livaudais. 
"Mademoiselle," began Pierre after 
acknowledging Diane’s greeting, "you 
eluded us last night. But this time we 
will be more vigilant.” 

D’Artois deposited a large and very 
heavy suitcase on the floor. 

"Oh, but you must be planning an ex- 
tended visit, with all that luggage!” 
laughed Diane. 

"And why not? Monsieur Landon 
and I keeping you under surveillance all the 
way around the clock, n’est-ce pas? But 
tell me, did we disturb you last night? 

Am I forgiven ” 

"And so it was you that broke my cut- 
glass decanter and spilled wine all over 
the rug. But no, I didn’t hear a sound.” 

" ’Tis well!” exclaimed Pierre. "I 
would have been desolate had we awak- 
ened you. And I shall send you a new 
decanter, all filled with my own Oporto.” 
"Monsieur d’ Artois, you’re a darling. 


166 


WEIRD TALES 


But how in the world am I to sleep to- 
night, with the both of you standing 
guard, staring at me as though I were a 
dodo come to life?” 

"Simple enough. Take a bit of this 
sedative. It won’t drug you so that you 
won't hear the voice.” 

"Well, why not give her a heavy shot 
of it,” I suggested, "so that she won’t hear 
the voice at all, and leave that devil be- 
hind his sepulcher door chanting in vain.” 

"Not at all!” objected Pierre. "She 
must hnd the way to open the door, and 
pass through, and fulfil that which has 
been impressed upon her subconscious 
mind. Then, after she has done that, we 
shall land like a ton of those bricks. I, 
Pierre d’ Artois, will land in person; and 
henceforth. Mademoiselle will see no 
tombs by night.” 

'Then, to Diane: "It is now passably 
late. Suppose that when you have ar- 
rayed yourself in . . . should I most ap- 
propriately say, walking-costume? . . . 
take a bit of this sedative. And then we 
will stand guard, we two.” 

As the door of Diane’s bedroom closed, 
I turned to (f Artois. 

"Why that suitcase? It’s heavy as a 
locomotive.” 

"That you will understand before the 
evening is over. I have there various 
things which I may 'need on a moment’s 
notice: though I can not say at what mo- 
ment. 

"We are fighting an organization that 
has infiltrated its members into every 
stratum of society. And by this time you 
have no doubt that you and I are marked 
and sentenced on account of our associa- 
tion with Diane. 

"We are not only contending with en- 
emies skilled in armed encounter, but 
equally gifted in psychic conflicts. Wit- 
ness, for example, how this so lovdy 
Mademoiselle Diane ” 

"Taking my name in vain again?” 


Diane opened the door and revealed 
herself in a negligw of blue silk curiously 
shot with gold. I wondered that Etienne 
hadn't bequeathed her his chateau as well 
as his house in Bayonne. 

"But I assure you it was complimenta- 
ry,” replied Pierre. "And here is your 
potion.” 

She accepted the glass, sampled its con- 
tents, drained it, stood there, the smile 
slowly fading from her features. Ihen 
she shuddered. 

'"niese engagements with the dead . . . 
I’m so glad I won’t be alone tonight. . . . 
Good-night, messieurs!” 

Vainly enough, we wished her a good- 
night also, this incredible girl who could 
still, at times, smile. 

Then d’ Artois took from his suitcase a 
coil of flexible insulated wire, very much 
like the extension cord they use to in- 
crease the range of a vacuum cleaner. In 
addition to die lamp and reflector at one 
end, there was a small portable snap- 
switch, and a tiny globe scarcely larger 
than those used as Christmas tree decora- 
tions. 'This layout Pierre plugged in at a 
baseboard outlet, a convenience which is 
most unusual in Bayonne. 

A s PIERRE uncoiled the wire and pulled 
w it along the wall, I glanced again 
at the chair I had occupied the night be- 
fore. Diane had accepted Pierre’s myth 
about the shattered decanter, and hada’t 
noticed the scar in the bade of the diair. 
But that one look was enough to bring out 
a sweat on me. 

'Then I thought of the hurled knife 
which had cut short the remarks of Nur- 
reddin. 

"Mademoiselle from Bar le Due, parlez 
vous ..." I hummed as I fidgeted about. 

"Tais-toi, imbecile!” snapped d’ Artois. 
"Bawdy to the last.” 

Which of course was unjust in the ex- 
treme, as I’d spent hours. trying to teach 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


167 


Pierre tiie proper rendition of that classic. 

"Surely, she is asleep by now,” he con- 
tinued. "And like you, I likewise would 
whistle to keep up my courage. But give 
me your pistol,” said d’ Artois. 

"How come.^” I demanded as quietly as 
I could at that outrageous order. 

"You are no less on edge than I am. 
And you shoot damnably straight. If by 
mistake you pointed that siege gun at me 
or Diane, you would have long regrets. 
And anyway, we want no disturbance or 
shooting. The enemy can’t see us, though 
they must know we are here; and they 
must not hear us.” 

I surrendered the pistol. Pierre was 
right, of course, but with the start I made 
last night, I had begun to take an inter- 
est in that excellent gun. 

"Eh bien, let us take our posts,” di- 
rected Pierre. 

I followed him into Diane’s room, 
where he set up the reflector and lamp in 
a comer so that if the circuit were com- 
pleted, the entire room would be illumi- 
nated. 

"Take that chair and draw it up. 'Thus. 
Now mark well the position of mine.” 

Pierre stood at the wall switch. 

"Should you catch a glimpse of a very 
faint bluish light, don’t dive for it. It’s 
just the pilot light of this lamp I’ve set 
up in the corner. As long as it glows. 
I’ll know that the . . . what do you call 
her? . . . the juice is on, and that I can 
depend on light when I need it. 

"Ready? Good!” 

'The wall switch clicked us into dark- 
ness. The sinister watch was on. 

S ITTING in a lady’s bedroom in Bayonne 
does not sound so terrifying. But 
when the lady is awaiting summons from 
the dead, and when the dead sends living 
envoys with keen knives, it is yet again 
something else. 

I wondered whether I’d fall asleep with 


my eyes open, and whether d’ Artois could 
resist that damnable influence, whatever 
it had been. 

Have you ever been in Morocco and 
heard the drums thump-thumping in the 
hills, calling the tribesmen to revolt? My 
heart was giving a perfect imitation. 

Diane’s breathing was soft and quiet 
and normal. 

Silence from Pierre’s post. Once in a 
while I caught a passing glance of the 
bluish-green pilot light, as he noiselessly 
shifted in his chair. Lucky he told me 
about that light! And once I heard him 
draw a deep breath. 'Just a deep breath. 
But infinitely expressive! 

It was getting d’ Artois too. Not a com- 
forting thought. 

’The clock in the cathedral chimed 
twelve. And then the quarter, ages later. 
Then the tension eased. It is born in us 
to place all diablerie at midnight: and that 
having passed uneventfully, I felt that 
nothing would happen until tomorrow 
night, when I’d be in a much better frame 
of mind. Thoughts would be so much 
more collected. . . . 

My relief was premature. 

I felt rather than heard a vibration 
pulsing through the room. It was as 
though I watched some one beating a ket- 
tle-dnun at great distance, getting the 
rhythm by seeing the drummer’s body 
sway to the cadence instead of actually 
hearing it. 

Then, finally, the pitch increased into 
the lower limits of audible vibration. I 
could hear it. Tum-tumpa-tumtum-tumpa- 
tum . . . low and massive thundering 
from across the wastes of space. 'The 
drumming of Abaddon of the Black 
Hands. 

It filled the room. It was an earth- 
quake set to a cadence. 

I heard a soft, sulfurous cursing from 
Pierre’s side of the room. 

Then a hand on my shoulder. 


168 


WURD TALES 


"It is I. The pilot ligjit is out. They 
have cut the house wires. We are 
watched. And there will be some one 
sent for ms.” 

The dnunming was reaching a more re- 
sonant pitch, so that the walk of the room 
amplihed it. 

Diane stirred in her bed. The voice 
was calling her to the hidden tomb. 

"When I am dead, open my grave and see . . .” 

I could almost hear that sweet, rkh Per- 
sian verse as an overtone of that sonorous 
dnunming. 

"They are here!” whispered d’ Artois. 
"I can feel them.” 

"And we’re in the dark.” 

"Here, take this flashlight.” Pierre 
thrust it into my hand. "Quick, toward 
the window!” 

The circle of light revealed a white- 
robed intruder armed with a drawn sim- 
itar. 

"Shoot him!” I whispered to Pierre. 

"No. Hold the light! And stand 
clear!” 

The intruder stared full and unblink- 
ing into the brilliant flashlight. His eyes 
were sightless and staring. He advanced 
with the fluent, slinking motion of a pan- 
ther, straight toward us. 

Then it all happened in an instant. 

D’ Artois with his chair parried the 
sweeping cut of his adversary’s simitar, 
and as he parried, he sank, squatting on 
his left heel and simultaneously kicking 
upward with his right foot. 

Perfea, and deadly. 

'The enemy dropped in his tracks. His 
blade fell ringing to the floor, and in a 
flash d’ Artois had the simitar. 

"Keep the light on the window!” cried 
Pierre. 

The companion of the first invader 
dropped fully into the circle of light. 
After him came a second. Both were 
robed like tbe first, and armed with sim- 


itars. And both stared sigjitlessty; yet as 
certainly as though they saw, they poised 
themselves like great cats, gathered for the 
final leap to overwhelm us. 

Great Gol! Noise or no noise, why 
didn’t d’ Artois fire.? 

"Use your gun!” I croaked, trying to 
yell and whisper at die same time. 

Facing those blades, empty-handed 

Christ! Was Pierre asleep with his 
eyes (^n, as I had been the night before? 

’Thm a glittering streak from the dark- 
ness at my side, and the first one dropped, 
shorn half asunder by Pierre’s simitar 
stroke. 

"Two!” gnmted d’Artois, and drew 
back on his guard for an instant, just out 
of the beam of the light. 

But before he could advance, the third 
leaped forward, covered in his charge by 
a circle of flaming, hissing steel 

Clack-clack-clack! 

Pierre was partying that blind assault, 
cut for cut. Parrying a desperate, reckless 
whirlwind of steel, stroke after stroke. 

Then he slipped through the mill, and 
sank forward in a lunge. 

I saw Pierre’s blade projecting a foot 
beyond his opponent’s back. 'The enemy 
was too close to use his simitar. I pideed 
up a blade and struck his weapon from 
his grasp, lest he maul Pierre to a pulp 
with it, since he couldn’t slice him to 
pieces. 

But that didn’t stop him. He gripped 
Pierre’s shoulder and drew himself for- 
ward, pulling Pierre’s blade still further 
through his own body in order to close in. 

I hacked again and again, in a frenzy 
lest that madman tear d’Artois to pieces 
with his bare hands. 

"Tenez!” gasped d’Artois. "C’est pni.” 

He disentangled himself from the 
slashed, hacked body. As a surgeon or 
butcher. I’d never qualify, the way I man- 
gle things when I hurry, 

"Quick! That first one ” 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


169 


D’ Artois snatched the red blade from 
my hand, and with a single stroke decap- 
itsaed the one who was rising to his knees 
and groping for his blade. 

"Look!” exclaimed Pierre. 

Diane, sitting on the edge of her bed, 
was slipping her feet into a pair of satin 
mules. It had seemed several lifetimes 
to me, from the time that (f Artois had 
advanced, armed with a chair, against the 
first intruder, until he had finished the 
third; but so swiftly had he worked that 
Diane had scarcely time to get out of bed, 
and find and don her robe and slippers. 

"She’s on the way.” 

"But where?” 

"Idiot! She will leave the same way 
our three visitors entered. Look!” 

W E FOLLOWED Diane with the beam 
of the flashlight. 

She went straight toward the window, 
grasped the bars, and pulled herself to the 
sill. 

"Follow her!” commanded Pierre. 
"Strip this one — his robe isn’t bloody.” 
I stripped the one cleanly decapitated. 
'Those fellows didn’t drop from the 
ceiling, but came down a diaft through 
the wall, whose opening was concealed by 
the window-casing. 

"How about a turban?” 

"’This one will do. Wind it with the 
stained end in. Quick, now! Follow 
her. Put that damned turban on as you 
go. Allezr 

Diane had pulled herself up. A 
glimpse of her heels, and she was out of 
si^t. 

"Now my pistol.” 

"Take it. But hurry. "I’ll be busy 

here ” 

"What?” 

"Va-t-eni” commanded Pierre. "Have 
I ever failed? Go!” 

I leaped to the window-sill, felt, and 
found a void over my head, grasped the 


edge, and palled m 3 ?self up. In spite of 
our knowl^ge of the thick walls of these 
old houses, the existence of such a shaft 
would never have been suspected. 'The 
flashlight revealed a narrow passage not 
over ten feet long. At its end was a shaft 
leading down. 1 ventured a flash down 
its depth, and sav/ a ladder leading to a 
level that was well below the first floor 
of the house. At the bottom I turned, 
and faced a low archway which opened 
into a passage leading straight ahead. 

Some twenty paces ahead of me was 
Diane. I slopped along as fast as I could 
in the loose red slippere of the enemy, and 
as I advanced, I wound my turban as 
well as I could on the march. 

Diane was walking with a slow, almost 
mechanical stride, or she would have been 
<juite out of sight. As it was, I quickly 
overtook her, and then snapped out the 
flashlight. Diane, deep in her trat^e, 
was utterly unaware of my seizing her 
robe so that she could guide me through 
the darkness. 

She was stepping to the cadence of 
those drums. 

I could distinguish now that the sound 
was of many drums: the roll and purr and 
sputter of tiny tom-toms against a back- 
ground of solemn booming that made the 
masonry quiver beneath my feet. Yet the 
source of the sound was still far away. 

Although the incline was not steep, it 
was perceptibly down-grade. We were 
turning ever so slowly to the left. The 
air was becoming damp and musty and 
cool. Our descent must now be taking 
us far beneath the uttermost foundations 
of Bayonne. Somewhere, below and to 
the left, was the brazen door that guarded 
the one who chanted in Persian and in- 
vited Diane to a conclave of the dead that 
were lonely in their deep vaults. 

Ahead of us was a faint glow. I halted 
to let Diane gain a few paces, and then, 
hugging the left wall so as to gain the 


170 


WEIRD TALES 


maximum protection from the door- jamb 
in case there should be a reception com- 
mittee waiting, I crept forward as silently 
os possible. 

Then it occurred to me that imseeing 
automatons like those that Pierre had 
stopped only by hacking them to pieces 
would hardly be susceptible to surprize. 
And if more swordsmen, bound in a deep 
trance and directed by some master mind 
to overwhelm me, were waiting. I’d have 
my hands full. I wondered if a pistol 
would stop them . . . the Moro jurmen- 
tados down in Sulu, riddled with dum- 
dum bullets, continue their, charge until 
they hack to fragments the enemy who 
hoped to stop them with rifle fire. 

Well, at least those three swordsmen 
had been alive, and their blood was like 
any other blood when spilled. 

I ventured a peep around the door- 
jamb. 'The passage opened into a small 
alcove which was illuminated by the red 
flames of a pair of tall black candles set 
one at each side of a brazen door. Diane 
was alone before the door. 

She hesitated, half swaying on her feet 
for a moment, then knelt on the second of 
the three steps that led to the door. 
Where her fingers traced the arabesques 
and scrolls embossed on the bronze, the 
verdigris had been worn away. How 
many hours had shd spent in wearing the 
seasoned bronze to its original color? Or 
were there then others who sought the 
same doorway? And if there were, when 
might they appear? 

Evidently she was seeking the hidden 
catch whidi would open the door; the 
gateway of the tomb. 

Surely Diane needed no light to further 
her quest. Then why these lurid candles? 
Had they a ritualistic significance, or were 
they for sentries, or acolytes that served 
the Presence behind the panel? I knew 
not what cross-passages I had unknowing- 
ly passed in the dark, and what swords- 


men might be marching from any of them. 
Swordsmen, or worse. . . . 

Then Diane spoke; not to me, but to 
the dead behind the door. 

"I’m trying, Etienne, but I can’t find 
the spring.” 

She rose from her task and retreated, 
turning away. Her eyes stared sightless- 
ly at me. ’Then she wavered, tottered, 
and retraced her steps. Some compelling 
power was forcing her to resume her task. 

I followed her, and looking over her 
shoulder, studied the embossing her fin- 
gers traced. Each curve, each figure, each 
floral and foliate form that could conceal 
the hidden catch she tapped, fingered, dug 
with her nails: but there was one she did 
not touch. And that one of all others 
seemed the only one that could con- 
trol the lock: the center of a lotus blos- 
som, close to the left edge. Even in that 
dim red light I could clearly distinguish 
a line of demarcation that separated the 
substance of the lotus center from the sur- 
rounding metal. 'Then why didn’t Diane 
press it? Why had she avoided it, night 
after night? 

But had she avoided it? 

It was smooth and polished. Some one 
had fingered and touched it. 

Diane herself. It all came to me: the 
door would not open until the Presence 
was ready for her arrival. 

I watched her fingers working their 
way back and forth over the traceries of 
bronze, toward the center of the lotus 
blossom. She was touching it 

I took a hitch in my belt, slid the sim- 
itar and its scabbard back toward my hip, 
shifted the Luger. 

Click! 

’The door yielded, swinging inward on 
silent hinges. 'The drums boomed and 
roared and thundered. ’Their vibrations 
smote me in the face like the blast of a 
typhoon. An overwhelming perfume 


THE BRIDE OP THE PEACOCK 


171 


surged forlii, stifling me with its heavy 
sweetness. 

1 leaped in ahead of Diane, advanced a 
pace toward the blank wall before me, 
then wheeled to my right, and saw him 
who made a madness of Diane’s ni^ts. 

H e sat cross-legged on a pedestal of 
carven stone. His arms were crossed 
on his breast. He was nude, save for a 
yellow loin-cloth that flamed like golden 
Are in the purple light of the vault. His 
face was emaciated and his ribs were hid- 
eously prominent. If he breathed, it was 
not deeply enough to be perceptible. 

The drumming thunder ceased abrupt- 
ly; and the silence was more terrific than 
^e savage roaring pulse that had halted. 
Dead? 

Dead, save for those fixed, glittering 
eyes that stared through and past me. 
But they lived, fiercely, with a smolder- 
ing, piercing intentness. 

Then some one stepped in between me 
and the Presence. 

Diane had followed me, and standing 
in front of me, faced him. 

Like him, she crossed her arms on her 
breast. Then she advanced with slow 
steps, not halting until within a few paces 
of the Presence. She knelt on the tiles, 
and bowed. Then she spoke in the ex- 
pressionless voice of one who recites by 
rote a speech in a foreign language he 
does not understand. 

"Etienne, I am here. I heard you from 
across the Border, and I have obeyed. I 
have opened your grave.” 

I stood there like a wooden image, 
neither drawing my simitar to cleave that 
living mummy asunder, nor my pistol to 
riddle him to ribbons. This couldn’t be 
the Marquis de la Tour de Maracq; not 
this blasphemy from somewhere in High 
Asia, that might have followed the Gold- 
en-Horde, ages ago. Yet she had called 
him Etienne. 'Then he spoke; 


"Landon, it is not good that you have 
meddled and entered the solitarium be- 
hind the throne. Even the elect dare not 
enter here. But since you are here ” 

He smiled a slow, sinister smile. His 
long lean arm extended like the undulant 
advance of a serpent. 

"Look!” 

I followed his compelling gesture with 
my eyes, and saw the brazen door swing 
slowly shut. It closed with a elide of om- 
inous finality. 

I stared for a moment too long, held 
by the voice and the gesture. Just a mo- 
ment too long. 'There was some one be- 
hind me. But before I could move, strong 
hands gripped my arms. 

'Hie Presence murmured a command. 
My simitar and pistol and flashlight were 
taken from me. 'The hands released me: 
and all with such incredible swiftness tiiat 
I turned just in time to see my four mo- 
mentary captors filing into an exit that 
pierced the wall, carrying with them my 
blade and pistol. As the last one cleared 
the threshold, a panel slid silently into 
place. 

I had been a splendid guardian of the 
lovely girl who knelt at the feet of that 
creature on the throne! 

"'That door,” resumed the Presence, 
speaking so deliberately that the moment 
of my disarming was scarcely an inter- 
ruption, “is easily opened from the out- 
side, by those we wish to admit.” 

Again he smiled that slow, curved smile 
of menace. 

He looked down at Diane, and spoke to 
her in purring syllables. She rose from 
the tiles, and stood there, vacantly regard- 
ing us, Diane’s body devoid of Diane’s 
spirit. 

'"This girl and I,” said the Presence, 
"have a few things to discuss. You will 
therefore be pleased to excuse us. . . .” 

He inclined his head, and smiled his 
reptilian smile. 


172 


lWEIRD tales 


I saw his fingers caress the carvings near 
tire top of the pedestal on which he sat. 
I leaped, but too late. The floor opened 
beneath me. As I dropped into the abys- 
mal blacknesses below, I caught a glimpse 
of the purple light above being cut off by 
the trap-door lifting back into place. 

I landed on my feet with force enough 
to give me fallen arches, and pitched for- 
ward on my face. The stones were cold 
and damp and slippery. I rose to my 
hands and knees, and crept cautiously 
along, feeling for openings in the floor, 
and hoping to locate a wall which I could 
follow to anywhere at all. A comer, or 
an angle, anywhere to get out of the heavy 
blackness and near something that would 
give me a sense of direction. Here there 
was only up and down, and neither north, 
south, east, nor west. 

Caged in the subcellar of this subter- 
ranean vault; locked in the basement of 
hell’s private office. And Diane in the 
hands of that animated mummy! 

Finally I butted head-first into a wall. 
The stars unfortunately weren’t of suf- 
ficient duration to let me see where I was. 
So I crept along, following the cold, moist 
stones. 

My fingers touched a vertical bar: one 
member of a grillework which blocked 
my advance. I reached forward with my 
other hand and grasped another bar, felt 
my way along, right and left. It was a 
gate, hinged to the masonry at one side, 
and chained shut at the other. 

Something tangible at last. Something 
to grip and struggle with. The gate 
yielded protestingly for a few inches un- 
til the chain drew taut. I could feel the 
heavy scale of mst and corrosion on the 
links. I tugged and pulled and pushed, 
but in vain. 

Then I removed my borrowed robe, 
folded it into a compact pad which I ap- 
plied to my shoulder. I backed off, care- 
fully measuring my retreat, gathered my- 


self, and with a running leap, charged the 
gate. The chain snapped. The gate 
opened. I pitched headlong ahead of me, 
amid a clatter of links and the clang of 
the gate’s crashing against the wall. 

Before I could regain my feet, some one 
landed on me. 

C LEAN, manly fighting may have its 
place in the prize ring, and possibly 
even in the wrestling arena: but in hell’s 
basement it is a needless grace. I shifted 
just in time to avoid the unknown’s knee 
fouling me. Not to be outdone in cour- 
tesy, I closed in, and located his eyes, but 
before I could apply my thumbs to the 
best advantage, he broke my attack. 
Finally I backheeled him, and we both 
crashed to the paving. Luckily, he ab- 
sorbed the shock, but it didn’t stop him. 
He lacJced the simian strength and ter- 
rible arms of the assassin of the night be- 
fore, but he made up for it in agility and 
devastating rage. We both were ap- 
proaching exhaustion from the fury of at- 
tack, defense, and counter-attack. 

I yielded suddenly, to throw him off his 
balance; but I tripped on the loose piece 
of chain, lost my own balance, and failed 
to nail him as he pitched forward. 

And I couldn’t locate him. My own 
heavy breathing kept me from hearing 
him. I was trembling violently, and my 
mouth was dry as cotton. And if my heart 
pounded any more heavily, I’d burst wide 
open. Well, he must be in the same 
shape. So I sank to the floor, hoping to 
catA him with a low tackle, or to thwart 
him in a similar maneuver on his part. 

But I couldn’t find him. 

"Come here, damn your hide!” I 
frothed, finally getting enough breath to 
relieve my wrath. 

"Thank God, a Christian!” panted a 
voice not far from me. "And by your 
speech, an American. Let us be allies, 
what is left of us.” 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCX 


173 


"And who might you be?” I demanded. 

"A prisoner like yourself. Let’s declare 
a truce, and if we must fight, follow me to 
where there is enough light.” 

The fellow sounded convincing enough. 
His English was the meticulously correct 
speech of an educated foreigner. 

"Done. Lead on.” 

"Then put your hand on my shoulder, 
and I will lead the way,” he continued. 
"To show my good faith, I will let you 
follow. Keep your head down. The ma- 
sonry here is low, and very hard.” 

My enemy chuckled. 

"Mordieu! but I have been deceived 
about American sportsmanship. You 
would have gouged my eyes out. You 
bit a nice morsel from my throat — apro- 
pos, I’ll show you the right way to do that 
some day, if we get out of here alive. . . . 
Steady, now! On your hands and knees . . . 
here we are.” 

I followed him through a low, narrow 
opening that had been made by prying a 
few blocks of masonry out of place, and 
into a tiny cell illuminated with a slim 
taper. The ceiling was vaulted, and over 
a dozen feet above the floor. 

"This has been my grave for some 
time.” 

He indicated the brazen panel in the 
wall. 

'"There has been entirely too much talk 
of graves in the past few days,” I replied. 
"Graves with living occupants.” 

He stared at me curiously, almost re- 
plied. 'Then, seeing me eyeing the bra- 
zen panel: "Mais non! Even with your 
bulk and hard head, you couldn’t budge 
that bronze. It doesn’t corrode and waste 
away like the iron in this devil’s nest.” 

"Well then,” said I, "how do they feed 
you?” 

"They let food down through a trap 
in the ceiling. Look!” 

I looked up, and saw the outline of a 
trap-door. 


"You look strangely familiar,” I be- 
gan. "I’ve never seen you, but somehow 
it is as . though I had seen a portrait, or 
photograph, or heard you compared for 
likeness to some one I did once see, some- 
where.” 

"No one has seen me for two years or 
more. But how did you run afoul of Ab- 
dul Malaak? Are you also an aspirant to 
the custody of the Sanctuary?” 

He made a curious, fleeting gesture 
with his left hand. 

"Hell’s fire, monsieur,” I replied, "how 
many custodians, aspirant and actual, does 
this devil-haunted toWn hold?” 

’Then, without pausing for an answer, 
I threw it at him: 

"When I am dead, open my grave and see 
The smoke that curls about thy feet.” 

"Comment?” he exclaimed. 

A home run! I continued: 

"In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee, 

Yea, the smoke rises from my winding-sheet." 

He stared. I met his stare. 

"Que diable!” he finally exclaimed. 
"Who or what you are, I don’t know. 
But you know who I am: de la Tour de 
Maracq.” 

"And I am Davis Landon. This meet- 
ing with the gentleman who has chanted 
Mademoiselle Diane to the edge of mad- 
ness is certainly a pleasure.” 

The marquis smiled wearily. 

"Qianted, and to what end? From 
your quotation of Hafiz, I know that she 
must have heard me, but she couldn’t get 
my thought. Certainly not thus far, at 
least. So I am buried here, and awaiting 
the bowstring, or the fire, or the saw and 
plank: whatever Abdul Malaak in his 
kindness orders when he has suj£ciently 
poisoned my friends against me. I 
thought a while ago that they had dis- 
covered my loophole and were trying to 
stop my private explorations. So I gave 
you a good fight ” 


174 


WEIRD TALES 


For just an instant a fierce light flamed 
in his eye; and then that thin, weary smile 
again. 

‘This is puazling,” I protested. "I 
happen to know that she did get your 
message which you ‘willed’ or projected, 
or whjrtever means you used. Every ni^t 
she wanders in her sleep to obey a sum- 
mons, and claws at a brazen panel •” 

"What’s that you say?’’ demanded the 
marquis. "Wanders in obedience to my 
summons? Wanders?” 

"Yes. From your house to the door of 
the room where that living mummy sits 
on his pedestal " 

”]isu! From »>y house?’’ 

"Yes. From yom house which you 
willed to her on your deathbed in Marra- 
kesh.’’ 

"But, monsieur, I never died in Mar- 
rakesh.’’ 

"’That I can readily believe,’’ I admit- 
ted. "But she showed me that letter from 
you, and a newspaper clipping announc- 
ing your death, and a note in Arabic from 
the companion of your last hours. And 
thus she accepted your legacy, the house 
«n Remparts de Lachepaillet, where she 
was very conveniently situated to leave by 
a secret passageway to hell’s front door.” 

T hroughout my speedh, the marquis 
stared at me, bewildered. 

"I, dying in Marrakesh, willed her that 
house ? . . .” 

"Yes, damn it, and hoodooed her with 
strange dreams of graves to be opened, 
and voices chanting in Persian. And to- 
night I followed her through the gate- 


"How’s that? Followed her? Is she 
there?” 

"Yes. And that devil touched a spring 
and dropped me into that dungeon before 
1 could say aye, yes, or no. So you migjit 
tell me what started her wanderings.” 

"Helas, monsieur, what can I tell 


"When I quoted Hafiz you seemed to 
hear familiar words.” 

"Certainly. I did chant them. I also 
am an adept. And I chanted the verse of 
Hafiz for the sake of the rhythm; not to 
give her a command to come and release 
me, which she couldn’t possibly do, but 
to ask her to conununicate with Nureddin 
Zenghi, in Kurdistan.” 

"Why the verse, did you say? What 
has it to do with Nureddin? 'That is 
dense to me.” 

"Pardon. You are not an adept. But 
to put it simply, it acted merely as a car- 
rier wave, as your radio experts would 
put it. It gave me a rhythm on which to 
impress my thought. I can’t explain it 
briefly. But go into Tibet, and High 
Asia; to Hindustan, among the jaqirs. 
Study at the feet of one who might still 
be found sitting at the feet of a column in 
the vast ruins of incredible Ankor Wat. 
Speak with the priests of the Eightfold 
Path. Piece all your gleanings together, 
and you will finally be able to project your 
thou^ts to one with whom you are en 
rapport — if you have the strength of will. 
’The knowledge is jealously guarded. 
But I found it. 

"Had I gone further with the art, I 
could have projected myself from my 
body, and spoken to her. But I couldn’t. 
Can’t yet. And shan’t live long enough 
to learn how. 

"When I was reported dead, I was 
actually in this cell. My enemy tricked 
me in a contest of occult arts, and here I 
am. Abdul Malaak. . . . Servant of 
the Angel, as he calls himself. I see it all 
now. He forged that letter and clipping 
to get her into my house from which he 
could summon her to make the trip im- 
observed. And his concentrated thought, 
aided by the circle of adepts in the great 
hall, overpowered my message.” 

"But Nureddin did come to town.” 

"Magnifique! Maybe she did send for 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


175 


him. And he will take the place by as- 
sault He will not fail ” 

"Nureddin has failed.” 

And I told what had happened in Pi- 
erre’s study. 

"Then we are doomed,” said the mar- 
quis. 

"Doomed, hell!” I said. "You sug- 
gested that we be allies. Now let me take 
command. Is it near your feeding-time?” 

"Yes. So says my stomach,” replied 
the marquis. And then, as he saw me 
glance once more at the trap-door in the 
crown of the vault: "Even if I leaped to 
your shoulders, I couldn’t reach it.” 

"Who said that you had to reach it?” I 
queried. 

"How then?” demanded the marquis. 
'"They don’t get close enough for you to 
take the guard by surprize as he gives me 
my food. If they only passed it through 
that door there!” 

"I have an idea. Stand close to the 
wall, out of sight. Better yet, back out 
through that hole in the wall ” 

"But ” 

"Be damned! Ask no questions, mon- 
sieur, or my inspiration will leave me. I 
have a himch. Are you with me?” 

"To the death and to the uttermost.” 

I accepted the hand he extended. 

"And there is another: Pierre d’ Ar- 
tois.” 

"None better,” admitted the marquis. 
'"There is no love lost between us, but 
he will not begrudge me any help given 
you and Diane. But even that d’ Artois 
risks his head if he dares enter.” 

"Never fear about d’ Artois,” I reas- 
sured the marquis. "But while we have 
time, tell me this: who has the hold over 
Diane’s mind? Is it you, or that dried-up 
thing on the pedestal?” 

"Both, it seems. Though he is aided 
by his circle of adepts. With them bro- 
ken up, his power would be comparatively 
little." 


"But would that release her, breaking 
them up, and him also?” 

"Yes. And I will die happy if I per- 
sonally attend his breaking up. Into small 
bits. Monsieur Landon. If we get out of 
here alive, I will dismember him with my 
bare hands! And since she has obeyed 
the command, she can be awakened from 
the influence of the Power ” 

"There they are now!” 

The marquis beckoned me to be silent. 

In my turn, I motioned him to crawl 
out of sight of the trap, and followed him. 

"Qu’est-ceque c’est?” muttered the mar- 
quis, obedient, but puzzled. 

"Wait and see.” 

We heard the trap open. A basket was 
descending at the end of a slim cord. 

"Pull tiiat basket up and let down a 
rope. That isn’t heavy enough,” I di- 
rected in Arabic. 

"Why not, ya marqees?” queried the 
voice, somewhat taken aback. 

"This isn’t el marqees, ya hu!" I 
shouted. "Let down that rope and pull 
him up. He’s still breathing, but he won’t 
be when you come back with a rope.” 

From above I heard a mutter of voices. 

"And who are you?” demanded the 
spokesman. 

I heard the clank of arms. My un- 
usual request had been passed along to 
the guard, doubtless. But as Pierre said, 
toujours audace! 

"G)me down and see, O heap of offal! 
One of the master’s guests, O eater of 
pork! Would you argue with me?” 

And then, aside to the marquis, "I’ve 
got ’em going.” 

The marquis grinned, and the fire re- 
turned to his eyes. 

"Give me your rags," I continued, "and 
we’ll fool ’em proper.” 

"Just a moment, ya sidi," resumed the 
voice, "while we get a strong rope.” 

"Make haste then, eater of unclean 
food! I have much else to do than to 


176 


WEIRD TALES 


butcher Ferhtghi swine, down here in the 
cellar.” 

"Patience, master,” said the voice. 

I dug up from my memory a few ep- 
ithets collected in Mindanao, and growled 
them in return. They couldn’t under- 
stand it, and were duly impressed with 
my importance. By tihe subbed and re- 
spectful murmurings, they must by that 
time have identified me as one of the mas- 
ter’s pet assassins. 

But the occasional tinkle of accouter- 
ments and soft note of steel didn’t reas- 
sure me. The death of the marquis and 
the lifting up of his body doubtless was 
of suflficient importance to detain a part 
of the guard. 

A HEAVY rope, several centimeters in 
diameter, was let down. 

"Give me more slack! Pigs and fa- 
thers of many little pigs, how can I tie 
this fellow’s carcass with that little? And 
anchor it firmly up there. When you get 
him up. I’m coming after.” 

'Then, to the marquis: “I’ll go first, 
and you follow.” 

"No, let them haul me up. I can’t 
climb a rope,” he whispered. 

"You’re a damned liar, but since you 
want the first crack at them, go ahead. 
But remember youire dead. Don’t start 
the show until I get there.” 

I tied a running noose and drew it up 
beneath his arms. 

"All right up there! Heave away! 
And wait for me. I’ll tell you what to 
do with him.” 

They heaved away. 

"Well,” I reflected, "I’ll be in a pretty 
jam if something goes haywire and that 
rope doesn’t come down again. 'That hot- 
head ” 

By the time the marquis reached the 
trap, I was in a sweat and a fidget. 

"Hurry up there!” I roared. "And let 


that rope down. Drop him anywhere. 
He won’t hurt you.” 

"Shall we hoist you, ya sahib?” 

"Let that rope down, and silence, ya 
humar!” 

So far, so good. I had them buffaloed. 

I leaped at die rope, and hand over 
hand, pulled myself up. As I approached 
the opening, I gripped its edge with one 
hand, heaved myself through, and 
sprawled face down on the floor. 

"He still breathes, master,” said one, as 
he sought to help me to my feet. 

“I forgot my simitar. Give me yours 
and I’ll tend to that.” 

And as I was solicitously assisted to my 
knees, the hilt of a blade was thrust into 
my hand. 

I leaped and slashed. 

"Give ’em hell, Etienne!” I shouted. 

And I laid about me, right and left. 

'The marquis closed in on the one near- 
est hkn, lifted him over his head, and 
dashed him head-first to tfie tiles. Then 
he snatched a blade from the floor, and 
came on guard. 

'The four survivors faced us, dazed by 
the swift turn. And then they charged. I 
hacked and slashed clumsily and desper- 
ately. Parried, and nussed my riposte. 
Lashed out again, and had my blade 
dashed from my hand by a sweeping cut. 
Etienne, crouched on guard behind his 
whirlwind of steel, faced half to his right, 
saw my peril, and with a dazzling snick of 
his blade, sliced my adversary’s sword 
arm half off: and bade again to his party. 

As I booted my disabled enemy into 
insensibility, I marveled at the incredible 
skill with which he held those three fierce 
Kurds at bay. 

I gave my opponent’s head one farewell 
bounce against the paving, picked up his 
blade, and joined Etienne. 

"Gardez-vous!” he snapped. "I have 
him!” 

.W. T.— 2 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


He slipped forward in a lunge, blade 
slicing upward to disembowel his adver- 
sary; and back on guard again, with but 
two to face him. 

They were too dazzled by that terrific 
attack to be aware of my presence. Thus 
my neck-cut to the one on the right was 
most creditable. 

"Tenez!” commanded Etienne, as he 
confronted the survivor. "I need him.” 

Standing as though his feet were 
spiked to the floor, he waved me aside, 
engaged his enemy, parrying cut after des- 
perate cut as coolly and effortlessly as 
though fencing with a blunt foil instead 
of with blades tliat sheared from shoul- 
der to hip with one stroke. 

The Kurd fought with the savagery of 
one whose doom stares him in the face. 
But in vain. He could not crowd or 
break through the hedge of steel that 
Etienne built with his leaping, flashing 
simitar. 

Then the Kurd stood there, blinking 
and bewildered, staring at his empty 
hand. His blade clanged against the tiles 
a dozen feet away. 

"Now, son of a disease, throw this ref- 
use into the pit. And you, Landon, strip 
this fellow you kicked senseless. I need 
his clothes.” 

The survivor complied without a mur- 
mur, and one by one thrust the dead and 
dismembered down the trap-door. 

"Tie that pig!” snapped the marquis. 

I obeyed, using a coil of the rope with 
which we had been hoisted up. 

"And now,” said the marquis, "tell us 
several things, or I will dismember you 
slice by slice.” 

The fellow growled. 

"What? Tongue-tied? Well, then . . . 
but no, I will not slice you to pieces 

"Landon, pass me that torch.” 

I plucked the flaming torch from its 
socket in the wall. Etienne applied it to 
the Kurd’s feet. 

W, T.— S 


177 

"Where is the girl, and what is the mas- 
ter doing?” 

The Kurd writhed, and groaned. 

"Speak up, dungheap, or I’ll roast you 
alive!” 

The smell of flesh roasted before it is 
dead is not pleasant. 

"I will speak, sahib!” 

"Very well. What is happening in the 
Throne Room, and what of the girl?” 

"The master sits on the high throne. 
The girl is as one dead, awaiting the com- 
mand to pass through the veils of fire to 
become the Bride of th? Peacock. It is the 
night of power.” 

"The night of power . . . and here 
we are, two against a company. Landon, 
will you join me in dying like a man?” 

"I don’t relish this dying stuff any too 
damned much, Etienne,” I confessed. 
"But I’ll go any reasonable length with 
you. So lead on.” 

" Magnifque! Let us go ” 

And then he turned. 

"This roasted pig here will spread no 
alarm,” he growled as his blade de- 
scended. 

We thrust this last body down the trap- 
door. 

T he marquis wiped his simitar, and 
led the way. Torches illuminated 
the passage until the first turn, and there- 
after it was lighted by an indirect glow, 
emanating from a molding along the 
arched ceiling. 

"Your Arabic is acceptable. A lot of 
these fellows speak only Kurdish or dia- 
lects of Turki, but stick to your own, and 
all will be well. And very few will 
recognize me in that purple light. None, 
in fact. They’ve not seen me for better 
than two years, and my very existence has 
been forgotten except by a few jailors.” 

"There was one who evidently had not 
forgotten you.” 


178 


.WEIRD TALES 


I felt for the little peacock amulet, and 
found it still about my throat. 

"Nureddin was speechless. Handed 
it to me, and coughed his life out. Since 
he was yovur friend, take it.” 

"Another vengeance to exaa. But re- 
member: on your life speak not the Ara- 
bic word for Satan. Whoever inadvert- 
ently pronounces it must then and there 
be torn to pieces. Nor say any word re- 
sembling it. That would be fatal to you, 
and would draw attention to me.” 

“What is your pian?” 

"I have none. Even as I had none but 
an urge to explore when I wandered into 
the darkness and found you. This laby- 
rinth is not entirely known to me. Keep- 
er of the Sanctuary before Abdul Malaak. 
But this part of it I know well enough, 
and our wits will do the rest.” 

The marquis led the way, down wind- 
ing passages, up stairways, down others, 
curving and twisting, never once hesitat- 
ing at a branch or cross passage. Sentries 
posted at intersections sduted us perfunc- 
torily; and the marquis negligently re- 
turned their salutes. 

As we advanced, I picked up the deep 
booming of the drums. Mingled with it 
was the wail of reed pipes, and the whines 
of single-stringed kemenjahs, 

"Fight it,” said the marquis. "Don’t 
let it get a hold oh you. Abdul Malaak 
sits nodding there on that tall throne, im- 
pressing his will on the circle of adepts. 
They receive and amplify it a thousand- 
fold, and on that a thousandfold more, 
increasing in geometrical progression. 
They have but to attune their minds to 
the vibration frequency.” 

"Once I saw them project their thought 
to take material form.” 

"Jugglery!” he scoffed. 

"Jugglery if you will. But I saw what 
I saw: a material entity formed in the 
vortex of that resonating, countiessly am- 
plified thought.” 


"But,” continued the marquis, "if you 
resist it from the beginning, you may hold 
your own. We may break it up. To- 
night's conclave deals with Diane, and 
thus our escape may not be noted.” 

As we turned a comer, crossed sim- 
itars barred our progress. 

Etienne made a curious, fleeting ges- 
ture with his left hand. 

The sentries raised their blades in sa- 
lute and advanced us. As we entered the 
arched doorway of the Throne Rcwm, 
their blades clicked behind us. 

A SMOLDERING, somber mist, red as the 
embers of a plundered city, hung 
in the air of that great domed hall. A 
heavy sweetness surged about us, wave on 
wave. Bearded adepts sat cross-legged be- 
neath three-decked, gilded parasols, and 
caressed with knuckles and finger tips and 
the heels of their hands the drums of 
varying sizes which they balanced on their 
knees. As they played, they swayed in 
cadence. Their eyes stared feedly to the 
front. They were dead men driven by a 
terrific will. 

Against the wall of the circular hall 
towered a pyramid terraced in steps of 
glistening black. Tongues of flame quiv- 
ered up from orifices along the stairway 
that led to the dais at the apex. The dais 
was canopied with gold-threaded damask, 
and crowned with the monstrous efl&gy of 
a peacock, tail fanned out, and enameled 
in natural colors. 

On the dais sat the cadaverous Abdul 
Malaak, that animated mummy that was 
to smite all France with the devastating 
thought waves of his adepts. He sat there 
like a high god. He nodded to the colos- 
sal thunder of the dmms, and the whin- 
ing strings, and the wind instruments that 
moaned of the blacknesses across the 
Border. 

We took our places near the foot of 
the pyramid, so that we could see the en- 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


179 


trance which faced Abdul Malaak. 
Through it filed a steady stream of dev- 
otees, all robed in white, with scarlet 
girdles from which hung simitars. As 
they took their places on the cinnabar- 
powdered floor, they caught the cadence 
of the music and swayed to its rhythm. 
From their ranks, row after row in a cres- 
cent facing the throne, came a hoarse 
whispering which grew to a solemn chant. 

Acolytes marched up and down through 
the ranks of the communicants, swinging 
fuming censers. Others, robed in crim- 
son, followed them, bearing copper trays 
laden with small, curiously shaped loz- 
enges and wafers which they offered the 
followers of the Peacock. 

The stones beneath us quivered. I 
could feel the world rocking on its foun- 
dations. That maddening music finally 
spoke in a wordless language of riot and 
pillage and chaos. And high above the 
adepts, arms crossed on his breast, sat 
Abdul Malaak, directing the doom. 

I thought of the violin note that would 
shiver a wine-glass; of the ram’s-hom 
trumpets that leveled the walls of Jer- 
icho. It wasn’t the sound. It was the 
thought that was in resonance, the mind 
of each individual hammering relentless- 
ly in cadence, doubling and redoubling 
the sum whenever another of the circle 
put himself completely in tune. Reso- 
nance; perfect timing; until the hatred of 
one shriveled adept from High Asia 
would be magnified a millionfold and on 
that yet again as much more. 

The air was tenanted with presences 
called from over the Border by that de- 
mon on his tali black terraced throne. 
Distinctly above that deep, world-shaking 
roll and thunder I began to hear twitter- 
ings and chirpings and murmurings. 
They were gathering, drawn by the mas- 
ter’s resistless vortex of power. We were 
being henuned in by a congress of evil in- 
finitely greater than all humanity work- 


ing with one thought could of itself de- 
vise. 'The puny blasphemies and petty 
filthinesses of mediaeval devil-worship 
were childish against this monumental 
array of satanism from Kurdistan, 

"Fight it, Landon, fight it!” whispered 
the marquis. "Don’t let it get you, or 
you’ll join them. Malik Tawus devised 
no such evil; not in Kurdistan and Ar- 
menia, where I learned the true faith to 
bring it to France.” 

An acolyte approached with a tray of 
wafers. The marquis and I both accepted. 

"On your life, don’t swallow it,” he 
cautioned. "Palm it. With that music 
you couldn’t stand the drug it contains. 

"And to think that I brought all this 
into France,” he continued. "Not this, 
tonight, but paved the way for that devil 
up there to get this hold. His death is 
more important than your life, or mine, 
or hers, even. 

"If Nureddin were alive, . . 

And then, "Look!” exclaimed Etienne. 
"Over there!” 

Diane, arrayed in wisps of scarlet and 
silver, and crowned with a strange, tall 
head-dress that flamed and smoldered 
with rubies and frosty diamonds, and 
glowed with great pearls lurid in that sul- 
try light, was escorted by acolytes toward 
the steps of the pyramid. 

Tongues of flame now spurted waist- 
high along the dais and encircled it; and 
the jets of flame rose taller along the steps. 

Pace by pace Diane approached the 
steep ascent of the pyramid. 

"She is to pass through the veil of fire 
and become the Bride of the Peacock,” 
whispered Etienne. "The flames will not 
hurt her body, but she will be enslaved 
beyond all redemption.” 

"Maybe we can make a fast break and 
charge up the steps and finish Abdul Ma- 
laak before these fellows come out of their 
trance,” I suggested. "Do you know of 


180 


WEIRD TALES 


any way of getting away after we’ve done 
that?” 

"Yes. A door behind the throne opens 
into the solitarium where he sits, most of 
the time, in meditation on his pedestal.” 

"Well, then. . . .” 

"The flames won’t hurt her body,” re- 
sumed the marquis. "But if one of us 
starts up there, all he has to do is to press 
a small catch, and the nature of the flame 
will change entirely. There are those who 
have passed through the veil unbidden, 
but they didn’t live long.” 

Diane had begun the ascent. 

'Then Abdul Malaak spoke in a great 
voice, incongruously deep for that ema- 
ciated frame. 

"Servants of Malik Tawus, I have sum- 
moned you to witness the Night of Power. 
Thus far we have failed because your lips 
served me while your hearts betrayed me. 
Some of you still think of El Marqees 
who would not honor me and the message 
I carried from across the border. 

"Others think of Nureddin, who would 
have kept you in Kurdistan, oppressed by 
the Moslem, and worshipping the Bright 
Angel as fugitives hidden in caverns. 

"But Nureddin was slain in the act of 
betraying us to the Feringhi so that he 
could liberate Et Marqees. But I have 
devised a doom for El Marqees; I, Abdul 
Malaak, have thwarted his power, and 
behold, she is seeking me instead of him. 
Behold, and believe, and give him freely 
to his doom, even as his comrade in trea- 
son was doomed.” 

"We see and we believe, and we give 
freely!” came the deep response. 

Etieime clutched my arm. 

’"rhere is but one chance. I will go 
first, and settle with Abdul Malaak, and 
extinguish the flames. You follow, and 
when the flames subside, take Diane 
through the door behind the throne.” 


Etienne leaped to his feet, and three 
steps up the terrace. 

I followed him, drawing my blade. 

A MURMUR rose from the devotees. 

Abdul Malaak stared, for once dis- 
concerted. Then he shouted a command. 
The swordsmen stirred in their trance. 
Abdul Malaak smote a brazen gong at the 
side of the dais. Its deep clang touched 
them to life. They rose. Blades flashed. 

Two against that host of madmen. 
Pierre had failed me. And I was glad 
that Be had failed. Why should he also 
die in this butchery? 

Abdul Malaak leaned forward in his 
throne. His fingers found and touched 
a knob: and the flames rose high about 
the dais, fierce, consuming fire. 

"Hold them until I get Abdul Malaak. 
“rhen take her away while I cover your 
retreat!” shouted Etienne as he passed Di- 
ane on the stairs. 

He leaped through that deadly, blind- 
ing flame and at Abdul Malaak on his 
throne. 

'Then came a voice loud and clear above 
the roar of the swordsmen: "Nureddin 
has returned! Nureddin with the assas- 
sin’s knife in his chest!” 

I turned, just two leaps from the 
flame-girt dais, where I had overtaken 
Diane and caught her in my free arm. 

And Nureddin it was, drooping mus- 
taches, scar-seamed cheek and forehead: a 
Kurd from Kurdistan. He flung aside 
his robe. A jeweled hilt gleamed from 
his chest: the very dagger I had seen im- 
pale him in Pierre’s study! 

"Who will exact blood indemnity for 
the death of Nureddin?” 

He strode through the milling throng 
that parted wide for him. 

"What? Must I rise from the dead to 
exact the diyat? O dogs and sons of dogs, 
have you forgotten the bread and salt of 
Nureddin?” 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


181 


And die wave of steel that was to over- 
take and overwhelm us subsided. There 
was an instant of silence. Then at the 
feet of the terrace the apparition halted, 
faced about, clutched at his chest, and 
wrenched the dagger free. 

There came a low murmur from the 
crowd. 

Nureddin hurled the dagger among the 
dazed swordsmen. 

“Take it and avenge Nureddin!” 

"Ya Nureddin!” shouted one. 

“He is our father and grandfather!” 

"Nureddin has come from the dead!” 

“Fraud and trickery!” shouted another. 

“That’s no dead man!” 

“Kill the impostor!” 

“It’s Nureddin himself!” 

The adherents of Nureddin were form- 
ing in a cluster. A simitar rose and 
flashed swiftly down. Another, and 
another. The friends of Nureddin, shoul- 
der to shoulder, were cutting their way 
into the company. Their number was 
growing every instant; but still they were 
outnumbered ten to one. 

Nureddin was ascending the terrace, 
three steps at a time. He halted where I 
stood, simitar in my sword hand, and my 
free arm supporting Diane. 

'The battle at the foot of the terrace 
was waxing hotter every moment. 'The 
friends of Nureddin were being forced 
back toward the wall. A dozen or twenty 
of the enemy were charging up the terrace 
to cut down the impostor, and me also. 

Nureddin thrust at me a pair of Bou- 
khara saddle-bags. 

I dropped my blade, and took them. 

Each of his hands emerged with an 
object a little larger than a goose egg. 
Then he tossed them, one with each hand: 
grenades! They burst full among the 
enemy, halting the charge with their 
deadly, flaming phosphorus. Another 
grenade. And yet another. The assault 
broke and fled, howling and aflame. 


And then Nureddin rained his gren- 
ades into the mob below. 

Even in this damned place of madness, 
I knew now that this was no dead man. 

“We’re out of fire!” he growled in gut- 
tural Arabic. “Some high explosive!” 

And that fierce Kurd, withdrawing the 
safety pins and holding the grenades to 
the last split second, hurled them so that 
they burst as they landed, rending and 
blasting the enemy. 

T he friends of Nureddin were now 
advancing, slaying-mad and fren- 
zied by the fire and explosive that dead 
Nureddin had hurled at the enemy. 

"Ya Nureddin!” they shouted. “Nu- 
reddin has returned with the fires of 
Jehannum! Ya Nureddin!” 

I glanced at the throne. The terrific, 
searing heat had subsided, and flames 
were scarcely ankle-high. Etienne was 
clambering to his feet. He reeled, and 
tottered. Blood streamed from his mouth. 
His smile was terrible. 

Then he stooped, picked an armful 
from the throne, and advanced down the 
terrace toward us. 

“I told you I’d do it. Sorry you 
couldn’t watch and take your lesson.” He 
laughed as he wiped his lips. “Look!” 

I saw from the torn throat of his bur- 
den that he had made good his boast. 

Then Etienne with a sunreme effort 
pitched the remains of Aboul Malaak 
headlong into the bedlam below. 

The Kurd was hurling his last grenade. 
One last detonation, muffled by the 
bodies it blasted and seared. 

“Etienne,” I demanded, “before we 
get into that butchery, release her so that 
her mind will be free.” 

"Tres bien!" 

He turned to Diane, stroked her 
cheeks, whispered in her ear, shook her 


182 


WEIRD TALES 


sharply, whispered again, tapped her 
here and there with his knuckles. 

Her scream was piercingly natural and 
feminine. Diane the automaton had be- 
come a woman again. 

"Oh, Etienne, I did find you! You 
weren’t dead after all ” 

"Found me, but not for long. Follow 
Landon out of here. Quick! I’m a dead 
man. Breathed too much of that flame. 
I’m following Nureddin.’’ 

He kissed her and broke away from her 
arms. 

"Well, if you’re following Nureddin, 
you’re going in the wrong direction,’’ said 
a calm voice at our side, not in guttural 
Arabic, but in French. "And here’s your 
pistol, Landon.” 

Nureddin, nothing! Pierre d’ Artois! 

"Stand fast, fool!” he shouted, seizing 
Etienne’s shoulder. "Nureddin’s friends 
are winning. And dead Nureddin is 
avenged.” 

'"nien,” retorted Etienne, as he recog- 
nized Pierre, "take Diane out of here. 
'This time I won’t return to haunt her.” 

Etienne saluted us with his blade. 

"Swear not to follow me! The last 
will of the dead. I don’t want to waste 
what little life is left ” 

Pierre stared at him for a moment, and 
saw that Etienne spoke the truth. 

"You have my word.” 

Pierre’s blade rose in salute; and then 
he turned to the throne. 

"Oh, Etienne!” cried Dkne, at that 
moment realizing his intentions. 

But Etienne did not hear her. 

As I followed Pierre, I glanced over 
her shoulder and saw Etienne, blade flam- 
ing in a great arc, charge headlong into 
the melee. His simitar rose and fell, 
shearing and slashing. His voice rang 
exultant with slaughter. 'Then we heard 
his voice no more. 


I half carried, half dragged Diane 
through the panel behind the throne, into 
the solitarium of Abdul Malaak, and 
thence, finally, through the winding pas- 
sages to Diane’s apartment. 

me,” I demanded of d’ Artois 

A the next day, "why you ordered me 
to follow Diane into that den of mad- 
ness?” 

"That was an error which I didn’t 
recognize imtil after it was all over,” ad- 
mitted Pierre. "But since you acquitted 
yourself as you did, I claim a free pardon 
for having unwittingly sent you to face 
the Keeper of the Sanctuary instead of 
going myself. 

"I had what you call the hunch,” he 
continued. "It came to me in a flash that 
my idea of impersonating Nureddin 
would succeed. You understand, I had 
toyed with the notion from the day of his 
death. I knew that Nureddin would have 
enough of a following to divide the con- 
clave if he suddenly appeared, risen from 
the grave. 

"'The disguise was easy. My nose is 
about right by nature. Those scars on the 
cheek and forehead, and the mustaches, 
and the eyebrows were simple. Just a 
few touches, and the essentials were there. 
And that dagger — well, that was one of 
those flexible-bladed weapons ixsed on the 
stage, in sword-swallowing acts. But 
convincing, hein?” 

Pierre grinned gleefully, and continued, 
"Finding my way into that den was not 
so diflicult. Nureddin before his death 
mentioned Porte d’Espagne. I checked 
against Vauban’s plans, and then made 
soundings with instruments such as pros- 
pectors use in your country to locate those 
oil domes. My men — ^you saw them, and 
remarked, that afternoon as we drove by 
— found considerable subterranean cav- 
ities where the plans showed none. 

"And since I knew enough of the rit- 


THE BRIDE OF THE PEACOCK 


183 


ual of Malik Tawus, my detection as an 
impostor was very improbable.” 

"But what set you on the trail, orig- 
inally.^” I asked. 

"Etienne’s letter,” replied Pierre. "I 
knew it for a forgery the moment I no- 
ticed that it had been written by some one 
who, being used to Arabic, which is writ- 
ten from right to left, forgot in his care- 
ful forging that Etienne would cross his 
t’s from left to right. 

”Alors, that sufficed. 'Then I tel- 
ephoned Paris headquarters, where they 
have a file of every newspaper in the 
world. 'There was no such article in any 
paper printed in Morocco as the one 
Diane gave me. 

’"Thus I knew that some one was using 
Etienne’s alleged death as a means of get- 
ting Diane into Etienne’s house, where 
memories of him would make her an easy 
victim to the psychic influences that were 
directed toward her. 

"And according to his remarks before 
you two escaped from his cell, the mar- 
quis had also been seeking to project a 
thought to her. And between the two 
forces ” 

"Just a moment,” I interrupted. "Why 
did Abdul Malaak go to all the trouble of 
projecting his thought to Diane when a 
couple of his men could have seized and 
dragged her down there? Why bother to 
prepare the stage setting of Etienne’s 
death? Just oriental indirectness?” 

"Not at all! Don’t you see,” ex- 
plained Pierre, "that they wanted not 
merely Diane in person; they wanted her 
as a slave of the will of Abdul Malaak. 
And when she had succumbed to his will 
sufficiently to begin her nocturnal wan- 
derings and pick her way to the door, he 


would know that she was truly in his 
power, and ready for the next step, be- 
coming an automaton whose activities as 
a spy could be controlled no matter where 
she went. 

"But, grace <5 Dieu — with certain credit 
to Pierre d’ Artois — ^Mademoiselle Diane’s 
mind is freed, not only by the death of 
Etienne and Abdul Malaak, but also by 
having obeyed the command which had 
been impressed so firmly on her subcon- 
scious mind. 

"And therefore, mon vieux,” he con- 
tinued, "since she is <ione for ever with 
opening graves in her sleep, you must 
during the remainder of your stay in Ba- 
yonne divert her mind from those gme- 
some memories. So out of my sight for 
the evening. I have work to attend to. 
Allez!’’ And thus on that, and on other 
evenings, 1 sought Diane with more con- 
fidence than I had any right to have. . . . 

“ O OMEHOW,” said Diane one night as 
O we sat on the tall gray wall of Lache- 
paillet, watching the moon-silvered mists 
rise from the moat and roll into the park, 
far below, "that moment’s meeting with 
Etienne was so unreal. It was as if he’d 
appeared from the dead to put my mind 
at rest rather than that he was actually 
alive. In a way, he died two years ago, 
instead of on that mad, terrible night . . . 
not a fresh grief, but the calming of an 
old sorrow ... if you know what I 
mean ” 

And then and there, as Pierre would 
put it, I had the hunch. 

"You mean,” said I, "that the Bride of 
the Peacock could be pleased with a much 
less colorful bird?” 

Which was precisely what Diane had in 
mind. 


(*m£) 


of 

the StapSpawn 

By AUGUST W. DERLETH and MARK SCHORER 

The story of a dread menace to mankind on the long-lost Plateau of Sung 


(The extraordinary paper, now for the 
first time published below, was found 
among the private documents of the late 
Eric Marsh, whose death followed so sud- 
denly upon his return from that mysteri- 
ous expedition into Burma, from which 
only he returned alive almost three dec- 
ades ago.) 

\ 

1 

I F THERE ever be a reader to this, my 
first and only word on that matter 
which has robbed me of all hope of 
security in this world, I ask him only to 
read what I have written, and then, if he 
is incredulous, to go himself to that moun- 
tainous expanse of Burma, deep in its 
most secret places, and see there the wreck 
of the greenstone city in the center of the 
Lake of Dread on the long-lost Plateau of 
Sung. And if he is not yet satisfied, to go 
to the village of Bangka in the province 
of Shan-si and ask for the philosopher and 
scientist. Doctor Fo-Lan, once far-famed 
among the scholars of the world and now 
lost to them of his own volition. Doctor 
Fo-Lan may tell what I will not. For I 
write in the hope of forgetting; I want to 
put away from me for all time the things 
that I chronicle in this document. 

Well within the memory of my genera- 
tion, the Hawks Expedition set out for the 
little-explored secret fastnesses of Burma. 
In all the newspapers of the world was 
184 


announced, not three months after the set- 
ting-out from New York, the tragic end of 
that expedition. In the files of any news- 
paper may be found the story of how the 
expedition was attacked by what were ap- 
parently bandits, and killed to the last 
man, mercilessly and brutally, the party 
looted, and the bodies left exposed to the 
hot, unwavering rays of the Burma sun. 
In most chronicles, there were two addi- 
tional details — the first telling of the dis- 
covery of the body of a native guide about 
a mile or more from the scene of the 
ghastly slaughter, and the second of the 
utter disappearance of Eric Marsh, student 
and assistant to Geoffrey Hawks, famed 
explorer and scholar, whose life was lost 
in the unfortunate Burmese expedition. 

I am Eric Marsh. My return was chron- 
icled almost a month later, less sensation- 
ally, for which I am grateful. Yet, while 
these papers state the manner in which I 
found my way once more into civilization, 
tliey laugh at me a little when they say I 
will not talk, and condole with me a little 
less when they say that my mind is no 
longer sound. Perhaps my mind has been 
affected; I can no longer judge. 

It is with the events of that period be- 
tween the murderous attack on the Hawks 
Expedition and my own return to the 
known world with which this document 
is concerned. Of the beginning, I need 
tell little. For the very curious, there are 
the easily obtained periodical accounts. 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


185 


Let me only say at the outset that our at- 
tackers were not bandits. On the con- 
trary, they were a horde of little men, the 
tallest of them no more than four feet, 
with singularly small eyes set deep in 
dome-like, hairless heads. These queer 
attackers fell upon the party and had 
killed men and animals with their bright 
swords almost before our men could ex- 
tract their weapons. 

My own escape occurred only through 
the merest chance. It had so happened 
that my superior. Hawks, had somehow 
lost his compass case, which he always 
carried at his side. We had been travel- 
ling no more than two hours that morn- 
ing, and he knew that the case had been 


at his belt when we started. Some one had 
to go back, for the compasses were indis- 
pensable to us. We looked to one of the 
natives to return quickly along the trail, 
but to our surprize every native we had 
with us refused point-blank to return 
alone. A strange uneasiness had been cur- 
rent among them for all of the last day, 
ever since we had come within sight of the 
range of high hills where lay the so-called 
lost Plateau of Sung. It is true that 
strange legends had reached us even be 
fore we had left Ho-Nan province of a 
weird race of little people, to whom the 
natives applied the odd name, "Tcho- 
Tcho,” supposedly living near or on the 
Plateau of Sung. Indeed, it had been oiu 



186 


WEIRD TALES 


intention to pry into these legends if pos- 
sible, despite the reticence and obvious fear 
of the natives, who looked upon the lost 
plateau as a place of evil. 

Annoyed at this delay, and yet desirous 
of pushing on, Hawks was not favorable 
toward the plan that we all return, and in 
the end I volunteered to cover the distance 
myself while the party went on more slow- 
ly until my return. I found the case of 
compasses without trouble lying in the 
center of our trail only five miles back, 
and veered my mount to rejoin the party. 
A mile away, I heard their screams, and 
the few shots they were enabled to fire. 
At the moment I was screened from view 
of the party by a low mound on which 
grew short bushes. I stopped the horse 
and dropped to the ground. I crawled 
slowly up the slope and looked across the 
flat land beyond to where the party was 
being massacred. Through my glasses I 
saw that the attackers outnumbered the 
party by at least four to one, that they had 
had a great advantage, for they had 
evidently attacked just as the party was 
stringing out to enter a defile at the base 
of the range of high hills beyond. I re- 
alized at once that I could do nothing to 
help. Consequently I remained hidden 
until the strange little men had vanished; 
then I rode cautiously forward to the scene 
of the carnage. 

I found there only dead bodies; no liv- 
ing thing had been left behind. The cav- 
alcade, I discovered at once, had been 
plundered, but fortunately for me, the 
marauders had taken neither food nor 
water, contenting themselves, curiously 
enough, with our plans and implements. 
Thus I was without even a shovel with 
which I might have given my companions 
something like a burial. 

T here was nothing left for me to do 
but to return to civilization; I could 
not go on alone. Consequently I took as 


many canteens of water and packets of 
food as I could carry on my horse, and 
started away. 

I had one of two routes of return open 
to me: either I could go back the way we 
had come, and risk death on the long 
journey over uninhabited land, or I could 
forge ahead and cross the plateau and the 
high hills; for I knew that uninhabited 

land lay immediately beyond the range be- 
fore me. The distance beyond the range 
was less than half that which I would have 
to recover, were I to retrace the party’s 
course. Yet it was an unknown route, 
and there was danger of again encounter- 
ing the little people whose ruthlessness I 
had witnessed. The factor that finally de- 
cided me was the still flowering hope that 
I might by some accident stumble upon 
the ruins of the forgotten city of Alaozar, 
which century-old legends traced to the 
plateau before me. Accordingly, I went 
ahead. 

I had not gone far, following as best I 
could the direction the compass indicated, 
when I heard a low call a little to my left. 
I pulled up my horse to listen. It came 
again, half call, half moan. Dismount- 
ing, I walked to the spot, and there I 
found the native whom the journals have 
mentioned as having made his way from 
the scene of the massacre. He was badly 
wounded in the abdomen by the same 
blades that had killed my companions, 
and he was obviously near death. I knelt 
beside him and raised his agonized body 
in my arms. 

His eyes flashed recognition, and he 
stared up into my face as memory returned 
to him, and unutterable horror crossed his 
features. “Tcho-Tcho,” he muttered. 
"Little men — from Lake of Dread . . . 
walled city.” 

I felt his body go limp in my arms, and, 
looking into his face, I thought him dead. 
I took his wrist in my hand and felt no 
pulse. Laying him carefully on the 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


187 


groxmd, I started away from him. As I 
walked through the low underbrush, a call 
much weaker than the first caused me to 
turn abruptly. The native was still lying 
on the ground, but his head was slightly 
raised with what must have been a tre- 
mendous effort, and one arm pointed 
weakly in the direction of the hills ahead. 

"Not there!” he rasped, "Not ... to 
. . . hills.” Then he fell back, shudder- 
ing, and lay still. 

For a moment I was disconcerted, but 
I could not afford to ponder his warning. 
I went on, toiling all afternoon up that 
ever-steepening slope before me, through 
almost impassable defiles and up sheer 
walls. Occasional trees, low, stunted 
growths, grew from the brush and waste- 
land, but these impeded my progress not 
at all. 

When I reached the crest of the range, 
the sun was setting. Looking into the red 
bla 2 e that tinted the desolate expanse be- 
fore me, the monotonous, uninhabited 
waste of unknown Burma, my mind re- 
verted to the fate of my companions and 
my own plight. Grief mingled with fear 
of the oncoming night. But suddenly I 
started. Was it the sun in my eyes that 
created the strange sight which grew out 
of the wasteland far ahead on the Plateau 
of Sung? But as I continued to stare 
ahead, the moving red before my eyes 
dimmed away, and I knew that what I saw 
existed, was no illusion, no fantasm. Far 
away across the plateau on whose very 
edge I stood rose a grove of tall trees, and 
beyond the trees, yet set in their midst, I 
saw the walls and parapets of a city, red 
in the glare of the dying sun, rising alone 
in the plateau like a single monument in 
a burial ground. I hardly dared believe 
what my mind thrust forward, yet there 
was no alternative — before me lay the 
long-lost cit}' of Alaozar, the shunned 
dead city which for centuries had figured 


in the tales and legends of frightened na- 
tives! 

Whether the city stood on an island and 
was surrounded by water — the Lake of 
Dread — as natives also believed, I could 
not tell, for it was at least five miles away, 
at a spot which I estimated should be the 
center of the Plateau of Sung. In the 
morning I would venture there, and go 
alone into the city deserted for centuries 
by men. The sim threw its last long rays 
over the waste expanse even as I looked 
toward the fabled city of Burma, and the 
shadows of dusk crept- upon the plateau. 
The city faded from sight. 

I HOBBLED my horse in a near-by spot 
where a reddish-brown grass grew, 
gave it as much of the water as I could 
spare, and prepared for the night. I did 
not sit long in the glow of my fire, for I 
was tired after my long climb, and sleep 
would wipe away or make less real the 
memory of my dead friends and the haunt- 
ing fear of danger. But when I lay down 
under the star-filled sky, I fell asleep not 
amid dreams of those dead, but of others 
— those who had gone from Alaozar, the 
shiuined and unknown. 

How long I slept I can not say. I awoke 
suddenly, almost at once alert, feeling that 
I was no longer alone. My horse was 
whinnying uncannily. Then, as my eyes 
became accustomed to the star-swept dark- 
ness, I saw something that brought all my 
senses to focus. Far ahead of me against 
the sky I saw a faint white line, flame-like, 
wavering up, up into the sky toward the 
distant stars. It was like a living thing, 
like an electrical discharge, surging always 
upward. And it came from somewhere 
on the plateau before me. Abruptly, I 
sat up. The white line came from the 
earth far ahead of me, in the spot where 
I had seen the city in the trees, or close 
beside it. 

Then, as 1 looked, something happened 


188 


WEIRD TALES 


to distract my attention from the light. A 
moving shadow crossed my vision and for 
an instant blotted out the wavering line 
ahead. At the same moment my horse 
neighed suddenly, wildly, and shied away, 
tearing at the rope which held him. There 
was some one close to me — man or an- 
imal, I could not telL 

Even as I started to rise to my feet 
something struck me a crushing blow on 
the back of my head. The last thing I 
knew was a faint, far-away knowledge 
that around me there was suddenly the 
sound of many little feet pattering, press- 
ing close to me. Then I sank into black- 
ness. 

2 

AWOKE in a bed. 

When last I had lain down to sleep 
on the Plateau of Sung, I know I had been 
over a day’s journey from even the rough- 
est native mats; yet I awoke in a bed, and 
instinctively I knew that only a compara- 
tively short time had passed since the 
mysterious attack made on me. 

For some moments I lay perfectly still, 
not knowing what danger might lurk near 
me. Then I essayed to move about. 
There was still a sharp pain in my head. 
I put up my hand to feel the wound I 
felt sure must be jthere — and encountered 
a bandage! My exploring fingers told me 
that it was not only a skilful bandage but 
also a thoroughly done job. Yet I could 
not have been taken out of the secret fast- 
nesses of Burma in such a short time, 
could not have been moved to civilization! 

But my ruminations were cut short, for 
abruptly a door opened into the room, and 
a light entered. I say a light entered, for 
that is exactly the impression I got. It was 
an ordinary lamp, and it seemed to float 
along without human guidance. But as it 
came closer, I saw that it was held aloft 
by a very little man, certainly of that same 
company which had only so recently slain 


the men and animals of the Hawks Ex- 
pedition! The creature advanced solemn- 
ly and put the lamp, which gave off a 
weird green light, on a stone table near 
the bed in which I lay. Then I saw some- 
thing else. 

In my amazement, I had failed to notice 
the man who walked behind the creature 
carrying the lamp. Now, when the little 
man bowed suddenly in his direction, and 
scurried away, closing the door of the 
room behind him, I saw what in propor- 
tion to my first visitor seemed a giant. 
Yet the man was in reality only slightly 
over six feet in height. 

He stood at the side of my bed, looking 
down at me in the glow of the green 
lamp. He was a Chinaman, already well 
past middle age. His green-white face 
seemed to leap out from the black of his 
gown, and his white hands with their 
long, delicate fingers seemed to hang in 
black space. On his head he wore a black 
skull-cap, from beneath the rim of which 
projected a few straggling white hairs. 

For a few moments he stood looking 
down at me in silence. Then he spoke, 
and to my astonishment, addressed me in 
flawless English. 

"How do you feel now, Eric Marsh.^’’ 

The voice was soft, sibilant, pleasant. 
The man, I felt, was a doctor; I looked at 
him more intently, seeking to draw him 
closer. There was something alarmingly 
familiar about his face. 

"I feel better,” I said. ’"There is still 
slight pain.” The man offered no com- 
ment, and I went on, after a brief pause. 
"Can you tell me where I am.? How you 
know my name?” 

My strange visitor closed his eyes re- 
flectively for a moment; then again came 
his soft voice. "Your baggage is here; it 
identifies you.” He paused. Then he said, 
"As to where you are, perhaps if I told 
you, you would not know. You are in the 
city of Alaozar on the Plateau of Sung.” 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


189 


Yes, that was the explanation. I was in 
the lost city, and it was not deserted. Per- 
haps I should have guessed that the 
strange little people had come from this 
silent city. I said, "I know.” Abruptly, as 
I looked at the impassive face above me, a 
memory returned. "Doctor,” I said, "you 
remind me of a certain dead man.” 

His eyes gazed kindly at me; then he 
looked away, closing his eyes dreamily. "I 
had not hoped that any one might remem- 
ber,” he murmured. "Yet ... of whom 
do I remind you, Eric Marsh.^” 

"Of Doctor Fo-Lan, who was murdered 
at his home in Peiping a few years ago.” 

He nodded almost imperceptibly. 
"Doctor Fo-Lan was not murdered, Eric 
Marsh. His brother was left there in his 
stead, but he was kidnapped and taken 
from the world. I am Doctor Fo-Lan.” 

"These little people,” I murmured. 
"They took you?” I thought for a fleeting 
instant of his standing among them. 
"Then you are not their leader!” 

The suggestion of a smile haunted Fo- 
Lan’s lips. "Leader,” he repeated. "No, 
I am their servant. I serve the Tcho-Tcho 
people in one of the most diabolic 
schemes ever formulated on the face of 
the earth!” 

The astonished questions that came to 
my lips were abruptly quieted by the si- 
lent opening of the door, and the entrance 
of two of the Tcho-Tcho people. At the 
same moment, Doaor Fo-Lan said, as if 
nothing had happened, "You will rest 
until tonight. Then we will walk about 
Alaozar; this has been arranged for you.” 

One of the little people spoke crisply 
in a language I did not imderstand; I did 
however, catch the name "Fo-Lan.” The 
doctor turned without a further word 
and left the room, and the two Tcho-Tcho 
people followed him. 

Presently the door opened once more, 
and food and drink were brought me. 


From that time until Fo-Lan returned at 
dusk, I was not interrupted again. 

T he short walk in the streets of Alao- 
zar which followed fascinated me. 
Fo-Lan led me first to his apartments, 
which were not far from the room in 
which I had spent the day, and there al- 
lowed me to look out over tlie city and to 
the plateau beyond. I saw at once that the 
walled city was indeed on an island in the 
midst of a lake, the surface of which was 
covered by heavy moving mists, present, 
I was informed, all day long despite the 
burning sun. The water, where it could be 
seen, was green-black, the same strange 
color of the ancient masonry that made up 
the city of Alaozar. 

Fo-Lan at my side said, "Not without 
base do ancient legends of China speak of 
the long-lost city on the Isle of the Stars 
in the Lake of Dread.” 

"Why do they call it the Isle of the 
Stars?” I asked, looking curiously at Fo- 
Lan. 

The doctor’s expression was inscrut- 
able. He hesitated before answering, but 
finally spoke. "Because long before the 
time of man, strange beings from the stars 
— from Rigel, Betelgeuze — the stars in 
Orion, lived here. And some of them — 
live here yet!" 

I was nonplussed at the intensity of his 
voice, and then I did not understand, did 
not dream of his meaning. "What do 
you mean?” I asked. 

He made a vague gesture with his 
hands, and with his eyes bade me be cau- 
tious. "You were saved from death only 
so that you might help me,” Fo-Lan said. 
"And I, Eric Marsh, have for years been 
helping these little people, directing them 
to penetrate the deep and unknown cav- 
erns beneath the Lake of Dread and the 
surrounding Plateau of Sung where Lloi- 
gor and Zhar, ancient evil ones, and their 


190 


WEIRD TALES 


minions await the day when they can once 
more sweep over the earth to bring death 
and destruction and incredible age-old 
evil!" 

I shuddered, and despite its monstrous 
and unbelievable implications, I felt truth 
in Fo-Lan’s amazing statement. Yet I said, 
"You do not speak like a scientist. 
Doctor.” 

He gave a curt brittle laugh. "No,” he 
replied, "not as you understand a scien- 
tist. But what I knew before I came to this 
place is small in comparison to what I 
learned here. And the science that men in 
the outer world know even now is noth- 
ing but a child’s mental play. Hasn’t it 
sometimes occurred to you that after all 
we may be the playthings of intelligences 
so vast that we are imable to conceive 
them?” 

Fo-Lan made a slight gesture of annoy- 
ance and silenced the protest on my lips 
with a sign. Then we began the descent 
into the streets. Only when I was outside, 
standing in the narrow streets scarcely 
wide enough for four men walking 
abreast, did I realize that Fo-Lan’s apart- 
ment was in the highest tower in Aloazar, 
to which, indeed, the other turrets were 
very small in comparison. 'There were few 
hi^ buildings, most of them crouching 
low on the ground. The city was very 
small, and took up most of the island, 
save for a very inconsiderable fringe of 
land just beyond the ancient walls, on 
which grew the trees I had seen at sunset 
the day before, trees which I now noticed 
were different from any others I had ever 
seen, having a strange reddish-green foli- 
age and green-black trunks. 'The sibilant 
whispering of their curious leaves accom- 
panied us in our short walk, and it was 
not until we were once more in Fo-Lan’s 
apartment that I remembered there had 
been no wind of any kind; yet the leaves 
had moved continually! Tlien, too, I re- 


marked upon the scarcity of the Tcho- 
Tcho people. 

"There are not many of them,” Fo-Lan 
said, "but they are powerful in their own 
way. Yet there are ou-ious lapses in their 
intelligence. Yesterday, for instance, after 
spying your party from the top of this 
tower, and after going out and annihilat- 
ing it, they returned with two of their 
number dead; they had been shot. The 
Tcho-Tcho people could not believe them 
dead, since it is impossible for them to 
conceive of such a weapon as a gun. At 
base, they are a very simple people; yet 
they are inherently malevolent, for they 
know that they are working for the de- 
struction of all that is good in the world.” 

"I do not quite understand,” I said. 

"I can feel that you do not believe in 
this monstrous fable,” Fo-Lan replied. 
"How can I explain it to you; you are 
bound by conventions long established? 
Yet I will try. Perhaps you wish to think 
that it is all a legend; but I will offer you 
tangible proof that there is more than 
legend here. 

“'P' ONS ago, a strange race of elder be- 
ings lived on Earth; they came from 
Rigel and Betelgeuze to take up their 
abode here and upon other planets. But 
they were followed by those who had 
been their slaves on the stars, those who 
had set up opposition to the Elder Ones — 
the evil followers of Cthulhu, Hastur the 
Unspeakable, Lloigor and Zhar, the twin 
Obscenities, and others. The Ancient 
Ones fought these evil beings for posses- 
sion of the earth, and after many cen- 
turies, they conquered. Hastur fled into 
outer space, but Cthulhu was banished to 
the lost sea kingdom of R’lyeh, while 
Lloigor and Zhar were buried alive deep 
in the inner fastnesses of Asia — beneath 
the accursed Plateau of Sung! 

"Then the Old Ones, the Elder Gods, 
returned to the stars of Orion, leaving be- 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


hind them ever-damned Cthulhu, Lloigor, 
Zhar, and others. But the evil ones left 
seeds on the plateau, on the island in the 
Lake of Dread which the Old Ones 
caused to be put there. And from these 
seeds have sprung the Tcho-Tcho people, 
the spawn of elder evil, and now these 
people await the day when Lloigor and 
Zhar will rise again and sweep over all 
the earth!” 

I had to summon all my restraint to 
keep from shrieking my disbelief aloud. 
After some hesitation I forced myself to 
say in as calm a voice as I could assume, 
"What you have told me is impossible, 
Fo-Lan.” 

Fo-Lan smiled wearily. He moved 
closer to me, put his hand gently on my 
arm, and said, "Have they never taught 
you, Eric Marsh, that there lives no man 
who may say what is possible and what 
not.^ What I have told you is true; it is 
impossible only because you are incapable 
of thinking of this earth in any terms but 
those suggested by the little science the 
outer world knows.” 

I felt myself rebuked. "And I must 
help you raise these dead things, pene- 
trate the subterranean caverns below Alao- 
zar and bring up the creatures that lie 
there to destroy the earth?” I asked in- 
credulously. 

Fo-Lan looked at me impassively. Then 
his voice sank to a whisper, and he said, 
"Yes . . . and no. The Tcho-Tcho people 
believe you will help me to raise them, 
and so they must continue to believe; but 
you and I, Eric Marsh . . . you and I are 
going to destroy the things below!” 

I was bewildered. For a moment I en- 
tertained the idea that my companion was 
mad. "Two of us — against a host of crea- 
tures and the Tcho-Tcho people — and our 
only weapon my gun, wherever that is?” 

Fo-Lan shook his head. "You antici- 
pate me. You and I will be but the instru- 


191 

ments; through us the things below will 
die.” 

"You are speaking in riddles. Doctor,” 
I said. 

"Nightly for many months I have tried 
to call for help witli the force of my 
mind, have tried to get through the cos- 
mos to those who alone can help in the 
titanic struggle before us. Last night I 
found a way, and soon I myself will go 
forth and demand the assistance we 
need.” 

"Still I do not understand,” I said. 

Fo-Lan closed his eyes for a moment. 
Then he said, "You do not want to un- 
derstand me, or you are afraid to. I am 
suggesting that by telepathy I will sum- 
mon help from those who first fought the 
things imprisoned below us.” 

"There exists no proof of telepathy. 
Doctor.” 

. It was a foolish thing to say, as Fo-Lan 
immediately pointed out to me. He 
smiled, a little scornfully. "Try to throw 
off your shackles, Eric Marsh. You come 
to a place you did not know existed, and 
you see things which are to you impos- 
sible; yet you seek to deny something so 
close and conceivable as telepathy.” 

"I'm sorry,” I said. "I’m afraid I’m 
not going to be much of a help to you. 
How am I to help you? And how will 
you go forth?” 

"You are to watch over my body when 
I travel upward to seek the help of those 
above.” 

Dimly, intelligence began to come to 
me. "Last night,” I murmured, "out there 
on the plateau, I saw a white line waver- 
ing into the sky.” 

Fo-Lan nodded. "That was the way,” 
he said, "made visible by the power of 
my desire. Soon I shall travel it.” 

I leaned forward eagerly, wanting to 
ask him a score of questions. But Fo-Lan 
held up his hand for silence. "Have you 


WEIRD TALES 


192 

heard nothing, Eric Marsh?” he said. "All 
this while it has been growing.” 

The moment Fo-Lan mentioned it, I 
realized that I had heard something, had 
been hearing it ever since we had re- 
entered the doctor’s apartment. It was a 
low humming, a disturbing sound as of 
a chant, which seemed to well up from 
far below, and yet seemed equally present 
from all sides. And at the same time I 
was conscious of a distinct atmospheric 
change, something which Fo-Lan did not 
perhaps notice, since he had been here 
now for years. It was a growing tension, 
a pressing, feverish tension in the chill 
night air. Slowly there grew in me a feel- 
ing of great fear; the very air, I felt, was 
noxious with cosmic evil. 

"What is it?” I murmured. 

Fo-Lan did not answer. He appeared 
to be listening intently to the chant or 
humming sound mounting from below, 
smiling to himself. Then he looked 
cryptically at me and abruptly stepped to 
the outer wall. There he pulled hard at 
one of the ancient stones in the wall, and 
in a moment, a large section of the wall 
swung slowly inward, revealing a dark 
passage beyond, a secret way leading 
downward. Fo-Lan came swiftly back to- 
ward me, taking up one of the little green 
lamps with which J had once before come 
in contact, and lighting it as he spoke to 
me. 

"I have not been idle in these past 
years. I fashioned that way myself, and 
only I know of it. Come, Eric Marsh; I 
will show you what no Tcho-Tcho sus- 
pects I have ever seen, what will silence 
all protest or disbelief in you.” 

T he stairs which I found myself de- 
scending in a few moments led 
downward along the round wall of a 
shaft that pierced the earth. Down, 
down we went, feeling the walls on both 
sides of us with our hands. Fo-Lan car- 


ried the lamp in one hand, and its green- 
ish glow served as illumination for our 
perilous journey, for the steps were un- 
even and steep. As we descended, the 
sounds from below grew noticeably 
louder. Now the humming sound was 
frequently cut into by another, the sound 
of many voices murmuring together in 
some long-forgotten language. 

Then, abruptly, Fo-Lan stopped. He 
gave the lamp to me, and with a brief 
caution to me not to speak, gave his atten- 
tion to the wall before him. Raising the 
lamp above my head, I saw that the stone 
steps went no farther, that we were, in 
fact, within two feet of solid masonry. 
Suddenly Fo-Lan ' reached back and ex- 
tinguished the light, and at the same time 
I was conscious of an opening in the wall 
before us, where Fo-Lan had moved aside 
an old stone. "Look down, and with care,” 
he whispered. Then he stepped aside, 
and I peered downward. 

I looked into a gigantic cavern, illumi- 
nated by a huge green lamp seemingly 
suspended in space, and by at least a hun- 
dred smaller ones. The first thing that 
caught my eye was the horde of Tcho- 
Tcho people prostrate on the floor; it was 
from them that the low murmuring sound 
was coming. Then I saw an upright fig- 
ure among them. It was that of a Tcho- 
Tcho man, slightly taller than the others, 
I thought, disfigured by a hump on his 
back, and incredibly old. He was stalking 
slowly forward, supported by a crooked 
black stick. Behind me, Fo-Lan, noticing 
the direction of my glance, murmured, 
"That is E-poh, leader of the Tcho-Tcho 
people; he is seven thousand years old!” 
I could not help turning in utter surprize. 
Fo-Lan motioned forward. "You have 
seen nothing. Look beyond them, beyond 
E-poh, in the half-darkness forward, but 
do not crjf out.” 

My gaze swept those prostrate figures, 
passed beyond E-poh, and began to ex- 

W. T.~8 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


193 


plofe the dusk beyond. I think I must 
have been looking for some moments at 
the thing that crouched there before I 
actually realized it; that was because the 
creature was so large. I hesitate to write 
of it, for I can blame no one for not be- 
lieving me. Yet it was there. I saw it 
first because my gaze fixed upon the green 
gleaming from its eyes. Then, abruptly, I 
saw it entirely. I thank Providence that 
the light was not strong, that only its 
vaguest outlines were clear to me, and I 
regret only that my innate doubt of Fo- 
Lan’s strange story made the shock c>f this 
revelation accordingly sharper. 

For the thing that crouched in the 
weird green dusk was a living mass of 
shuddering horror, a gfiastly mountain of 
sensate, quivering flesh, whose tentacles, 
fiur-fluog in the dim reaches of the subter- 
ranean cavern, emitted a strange hum- 
ming sound, while from the depths of the 
creature’s body came a weird and horrific 
ululation. Then I fell back into Fo-Lan’s 
arms. My mouth opened to cry out, but 
I felt the doctor’s firm hand clapped across 
my lips, and from a great distance I 
seemed to hear his voice. 

"That ti Uoigor!" 

3 

o-lan’s story was true! 

I found myself suddenly in Fo- 
Lan’s apartment. I know I must have 
cliihbed the long winding steps, but I do 
not remember climbing them, for the 
tumultuous thoughts that troubled me 
and the hideous memory of the thing I 
had seen served to drive from my mind 
all consciousness of what I was doing. 

Fo-Lan came quiddy away from the 
wall and stood before me, his face trium- 
phant in the green lamplight. "For three 
years I have helped them penetrate into 
the eardi, into die caverns below, have 
helped them in their evil purpose; now I 
W. T.— 4 


shall destroy, and my dead brother will 
be avenged!’’ He spoke with an intensity 
I had not imagined him capable of. 

He did not wait for any comment from 
me. Passing beyond me, he put the lamp 
down on a small table near the door. 
'Then he went into the bedroom and Ik 
another lamp; I saw its green light on die 
wall as he came once more into the room 
where I stood. 

"Mind,” said Fo-Lan as he stood be- 
fore me, "is all-powerful. Mind is every- 
thing, Eric Marsh. This evening you saw 
things of which you hesitated to speak, 
even before you saw the thing in the cav- 
ern below — Lloigor. You saw leaves 
move on trees — and they moved by the 
power of evil intelligences far Wow 
them, deep in the earth — a living proof of 
the existence of Lloigor and Zhar. 

"E-poh has a mind of great power, but 
the knowledge I have endows me with 
greater power despite his tremendous age. 
Long hours I have sought to penetrate 
cosmic space, and so powerful has my 
mind become that even you could see the 
thought-thread that wavered upward from 
Alaozar last night! And mind, Erk 
Marsh, exists independent of body. 

"I will wait no longer. Tonight I will 
go forth, now, while the worship is in 
progress. And you must watch my body.” 

Colossal as his plan was, I could only 
believe. What I had seen during the short 
space of my visit was unbelievable, impos- 
sible, yet was! 

Fo-Lan continued. "My body will r«t 
on the bed in the chamber beyond, but my 
mind will go where I wish it with a speed 
incomparable to anything we know. I will 
think myself on Rigel, and I shall be 
there. You must watch that none disturbs 
my body while I am gone. It will not be 
long.” 

Fo-Lan drew from his voluminous robe 
a small pistol, which I recognized im- 
mediately as one I had been carrying in 



194 


WEIRD TALES 


my pack. "You will kill any one who 
tries to enter, Eric Marsh.” 

Beckoning me to follow him, Fo-Lan 
led the way into his chamber, and despite 
my feeble protest, stretched himself on the 
bed. Almost at once his body went rigid, 
and at tlie same moment I saw a gray out- 
line of Fo-Lan standing before me, a 
smile on his thin lips, his eyes turned up- 
ward. Then he was gone, and I was alone 
with his body. 

F or over an hour I sat in Fo-Lan’s apart- 
ment, my terror moimting with each 
second. Only in that hour was I capable 
of approaching in my thoughts the cata- 
clysmic horror which confronted the 
world if Fo-Lan was vinsuccessful in his 
daring quest. Once, too, while I sat there, 
pattering footsteps halted beyond the 
outer door; then, to my unspeakable re- 
lief, passed on. Toward the end of my 
watch, the abrupt cessation of the chant- 
ing soimds from below, followed by the 
noises of movement throughout the island 
city, indicated that the worship was over. 
Then for the first time I left the chamber 
to take up my position at the outer door, 
where I stood, gun in hand, waiting for 
the interruptions my terrified mind told 
me must come. 

But I never had cause to use the wea- 
pon, for suddenly* I heard the sound of 
feet behind me. I whirled — and saw Fo- 
Lan! He had returned. He stood quietly, 
listening; then he nodded to himself and 
said, "We must leave Alaozar, Eric 
Marsh. Alone, we can not do it, and we 
have little time to waste. We must see 
E-poh, and have his permission to go be- 
yond to the Plateau of Sung.” 

Fo-Lan moved forward now, and 
tugged at a long rope which hung quite 
near me along the wall. From somewhere 
far below there came the abrupt clang of 
a gong. Once more Fo-Lan pulled the 
rope, and again the gong sounded. 


"That is to inform E-poh that I must 
speak to him about an urgent matter — 
concerning the things below.” 

"And your quest?” I asked. "Has it 
been successful?” 

He smiled wryly. "It will be successful 
only if I can convince E-poh to open the 
way for Lloigor and Zhar and their count- 
less hordes tonight — now! The way must 
be open, otherwise even the Star-Warriors 
are helpless to penetrate earth.” 

The sound of running feet in the cor- 
ridor cut short my questions. The door 
opened inward and on the threshold I saw 
two of the Tcho-Tcho people, dressed in 
long green robes and wearing on their 
foreheads curious five-pointed star- 
designs. They ignored me completely, ad- 
dressing themselves to Fo-Lan. A rapid 
conversation in their strange language fol- 
lowed, and in a moment the two little 
people turned to lead the way. 

Fo-Lan started after them, motioning 
me to follow. "From E-poh,” he whis- 
pered. Then he added in a quick voice, 
"Be careful and speak no English before 
E-poh, for he understands it. Also, be 
certain you still have the gun, for E-poh 
will not let us go beyond Alaozar without 
an escort. And those little people you and 
I will have to kill.” 

We went rapidly down the corridor, 
and after a long descent, found ourselves 
on the street level, and deep in the tower. 
At last we entered an apartment similar 
in many respects to Fo-Lan’s, but neither 
so small nor so civilized in its aspect. 
There we confronted E-poh, surrounded 
by a group of little people dressed simi- 
larly to our guides. Fo-Lan bowed low, 
and I did the same imder the stress of 
those curious little eyes turned on me. 

E-poh was seated on a sort of raised 
dais, suggestive of his leadership, but be- 
yond the evidence of his great age in his 
lined face and his withered hands, and 
the servile attitude of the Tcho-Tcho peo- 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


193 


pie ne« him, there was no indication that 
he was the ruler of the little people 
around us. 

"E-poh,” said Fo-Lan, speaking in 
English for my benefit, "I have had intel- 
ligence from those below.” 

E-poh dosed his eyes slowly, saying in 
a strange whistling voice, "And this in- 
telligence — what is it, Fo-Lan?” 

Fo-Lan chose to i^ore his question, 
"Lloigor and Zhar themselves have spok- 
en to my mind!” he said. 

E-poh opened his eyes and looked at 
the doctor iii disbelief. "Even to me Thds 
has never spoken, Fo-Lan. How can it 
be that he has spoken to you?” 

"Because I have fashioned the way, 
mine have been the bands that groped be- 
low and found Lloigor and those others. 
7hit is greater than Lloigor, and of 
greater age, and his word is Hw to those 
below.” 

"And what has Zhar conununicated to 
you, Fo-Lan?” 

"It is written below that tonight is the 
time when the buried ones wish to come 
forthj and it is decreed that the servants 
of E-prfr miBt go beyond Alaozar, beyond 
the Lake of Dread to the Plateau of Sung, 
there to await the comihg of the Old Ones 
from below.” 

E-poh peered intently at Fo-Lan, his 
perplexity evident, "Toni^t I spoke long 
with Lloigor; it is strange that he told me 
nothing of this plan, Fo-Lan.” 

Fo-Lan bowed again. "That is because 
the decision is Zhar’s, and of this Lloigor 
did not know until now.” 

"And it is strange that the Old Ones 
did not address themselves to me.” 

For a moment Fo-Lan hesitated; then 
he said, "That is because !^ar wishes me 
to go beyond Alaozar, to address those be- 
low Sung, while E-poh and his people 
must summon the Gods below from the 
towers and house-tops of Alaozar. When 
Lloigor and Zhar have come above the 


Lake of Dread, then Eric Marsh and I 
must return to Alaozar, to plan for them 
the way beyond, into the outer world.” 

E-poh pondered this statement. In me 
uneasiness was beginning to grow when 
at last the Tcho-Tcho leader said, "It will 
be as you wish, Fo-Lan, but four of my 
people must go with you and the Amer* 
ican.” 

Fo-Lan bowed. "It is pleasing to me 
that four others accompany us. But it is 
necessary also for us to take with us food 
and water, for there is no way of telling 
how many hours it may take the Old 
Ones to rise from below.” 

E-poh acquiesced without question. 

Within a half-hour the six of us found 
ourselves pushing off the Isle of the Stars 
into the Lake of Dread, heavily shrouded 
in thick mists which gave off a strange 
putrescent odor. The barge-like boat in 
which we rode was strangely suggestive 
of ancient Roman galleys, yet very differ* 
ent. The Tcho-Tcho people sculled their 
way across the lake, and in a few moments 
we had readied the opposite shore and 
were pushing rapidly across the Plateau 
of Sung. 

W E HAD not gcHie far, when from be- 
hind us came a weird whistling 
call, then another and another, and finally 
a ghastly assembly was piping weirdly 
from the towers of Alaozar. And from 
below there came suddenly tlie terrifying 
sound of movements under the earth. 

"They have opened the vast caverns be* 
low the dty,” murmured Fo-Lan, "and 
they are calling fortii Lloigor and Zhar 
and those below them.” 

Then Fo-Lan looked swiftly arOund, 
calculating the distance we had coveted. 
Abruptly he turned to me, whispering, 
"Give me ffie gun; ffiey will not heat in 
the city.” 

Silently I handed die doctor the wea- 
pon, and following his sign, backed away. 


196 


WEIRD TALES 


Sharply the sound of the first shot cut into 
the night; immediately after, a second 
shot rang out. Two of our little com- 
panions were dead. But the other two, 
seeing what had happened to their com- 
panions, and sensing their own fate, 
jumped nimbly away, drawing their sharp 
little two-edged swords. Then, together, 
they came at Fo-Lan. The revolver spat 
again, and one of them went down, claw- 
ing wildly at the air. But the last of them 
came on — and the revolver jammed. 

Fo-Lan leaped aside at the same in- 
stant that I flung myself forward, falling 
on the Tcho-Tcho man from behind. Tire 
force of my attack caused him to drop the 
weapon he held in his hand, and I 
thought for a moment that his death was 
certain. But I had reckoned without his 
strength. He whirled at once, catching me 
unaware, and with the greatest ease flung 
me five feet from him. But this short 
pause had been sufficient for Fo-Lan; 
darting forward, he seized the weapon the 
Tcho-Tcho man had dropped. Then, just 
as the little man turned, Fo-Lan plunged 
the weapon into his body. He dropped 
instantly. 

I staggered to my feet, bruised from 
the shock of being thrown to the ground 
with such force; I had not imagined that 
these little men could be so powerful, de- 
spite Fo-Lan's early wa':nipg. Fo-Lan was 
standing quite still, an almost ecstatic, 
smile on his face. I looked at him, and 
opened my lips to speak — and then a 
movement far behind him caught my eye. 
At the same instant Fo-Lan turned. 

Far up in the sky a brilliant beam of 
light was growing — and it did not come 
from the earth! Then suddenly, so swiftly 
the light grew, the surrounding country 
was as light as day, and in the sky I saw 
countless hordes of strange, fiery crea- 
tures, apparently mounted on creatures of 
burden. The riders in the sky were oddly 
like men in construction, save that from 


their sides grew three pairs of flailing 
growths similar to arms, yet not arms, and 
in these growths they carried curious tube- 
like weapons. And in size, these beings 
were monstrous. 

"My God!’’ I exclaimed, when I could 
find my voice. "What is it, Fo-Lan.?’’ 

Fo-Lan’s eyes were gleaming in tri- 
umph. "They are the Star-Warriors sent 
by the Ancient Ones from Orion. Up 
there they listened to my plea, for they 
know that Lloigor and Zhar and their evil 
spawn are deathless to man; they know 
that only the ancient weapons of the Elder 
Gods can punish and destroy.’’ 

I looked once more into the sky. The 
glowing beings were now much closer, 
and I saw that the things they rode were 
limbless — that they were exactly like long 
tubes, pointed at both ends, travelling 
evidently only in the power of the ray of 
light emanating from the stars far above. 

"The ululations from beneath the earth 
have guided them here — and now they 
will destroy!" 

F O-lan’s voice was drowned out abrupt- 
ly by the terrific clamor that rose from 
Alaozar. For the Star-Warriors had sur- 
rounded the city, and now from their tube- 
like appendages shot forth great beams of 
annihilation and death! And the age-old 
masonry of Alaozar was crumbling into 
ruin. Then suddenly the Star-Warriors 
descended, entering into the city, and pen- 
etrating the vast caverns beneath. 

And then two things happened. The 
entire sky began to glow with a weird 
purple light, and in the ray that descend- 
ed from above I saw a file of beings even 
stranger than the Star-Warriors. 'They 
were great, writhing pillars of light, mov- 
ing like tremendous flames, colored pur- 
ple and white, dazzling in their intensity. 
These gigantic beings from outer space 
descended swiftly, circling the Plateau of 
Sung, and from them great rays of stab- 


THE LAIR OF THE STAR-SPAWN 


197 


bing light shot out toward the hidden 
fastnesses below. And at the same time, 
the earth began to tremble. 

Shuddering, I put out my hand to touch 
Fo-Lan’s arm. He was utterly unmoved, 
save in triumphant joy at the spectacle of 
the destruction of Alaozar. "The Ancient 
Ones themselves have come!” he cried out. 

I remember wanting to say something, 
but I saw suddenly one of those incon- 
ceivable pillars of light bending over Fo- 
Lan and me, and I felt slithering tentacles 
gently reaching around me; then I knew 
no more. 

There is little more to write. I came to 
my senses near Bangka, miles from the 
Plateau of Sung, and at my side was Fo- 
Lan, unhurt and smiling. We had been 
transported within the second by the 
Ancient God who had bent to save us 
from the destruction of the things beneath 
the earth. 

4 

T he statement of Eric Marsh ends thus 
abruptly. However, what surmises 
might be made from it, this paper will not 
state. Mr. Marsh had appended to his 
curious statement several newspaper clip- 
pings, all of them dated within ten days 
of his appearance at Bangka, where he 
evidently stayed for a while with Doctor 
Fo-Lan before returning to America. 
There is room for only a brief summary 
of the clippings. 

The first was from a Tokyo paper an- 
nouncing the strange reappearance of 
Doctor Fo-Lan. Another clipping from 
the same issue of that paper tells of a 
curious electrical display witnessed from 


several observatories in the Orient, seem- 
ingly centered in its elemental force some- 
where in Burma. Still another paragraph 
concerns an apparition (thus it is called) 
supposedly seen in the night during which 
Doctor Fo-Lan and Eric Marsh so myste- 
riously returned to Bangka; it was that of 
a gigantic pillar of light, towering far into 
the sky, and alive with movement; it was 
seen by forty-seven persons in and around 
Bangka. 

The final clipping was dated ten days 
later; it was taken from an eminent Lon- 
don paper, and is the verbatim report of 
an aviator who flew over Burma in the 
endeavor to trace the source of a fetid 
odor which was sweeping the country, 
nauseating India and China for hundreds 
of miles around. The heart of this report 
is briefly: 

"The odor I traced to the so-called Pla- 
teau of Sung, to which I was attracted by 
accidental sight of hitherto unknown 
ruins in the heart of the plateau. I found, 
to my amazement, that for some reason 
the earth of the plateau had been broken 
and torn up for its entire area, save for one 
spot not far from a deep cavern near the 
ruins, which bears evidence of once hav- 
ing been a lake. On this spot I managed 
to effect a landing. I left the machine in 
order to determine the meaning of the 
great green-black masses of rotting flesh 
which greeted my eyes at once. But the 
odor forced a quick retreat. Yet this I 
know; the remains on the Plateau of Sung 
are those of what must have been gigantic 
animals, apparently boneless, and utterly 
unknown to man. And they must have 
met death in battle with mortal enemiesl" 



Hhe story of a mad horror loosed upon a mediaeval village by Blaise Reynard 

the stone-cutter 


A MONO the many gargoyles that 
frowned or leered from the roof 
^ ^ of the new-built cathedral Of 
Vyones, two were pre-eminent above the 
rest by virtue of their fine workmanship 
and their supreme grotesquery. These 
two had been wrought by the stone-carver 
Blaise Reynard, a native of Vyones, who 
had lately returned from a long sojourn 
in the cities of Provence, and had secured 
employment on the cathedral when the 
three years’ task of its construction and 
ornamentation was well-nigh completed. 
In view of the wonderful artistry shown 
by Reynard, it was regretted by Ambro- 
sius, the archbishop, that it had not been 
possible to commit the execution of all 
the gargoyles to this delicate and accom- 
plished workman; but other people, with 
less liberal tastes than Ambrosius, were 
heard to express a different opinion. 

This opinion, perhaps, was tinged by 
the personal dislike that had been gen- 
erally felt toward Aeynard in Vyones even 
from his boyhood; and which had been 
revived with some virulence on his re- 
turn. Whether rightly or unjustly, his 
very physiognomy had always marked him 
out for public disfavor: he was inordi- 
nately dark, with hair and beard of a 
preternatural bluish-black, and slanting, 
ill-matched eyes that gave him a sinister 
and cunning air. His taciturn and satur- 
nine ways were such as a superstitious peo- 
ple would identify with necromantic 
knowledge or complicity; and there were 
those who covertly accused him of being 
in league with Satan; though the accusa- 
198 


tioiis were little more than vague, anony- 
mous rumors, even to the end, throu^ 
lack of veritable evidence. 

However, the people who suspected 
Reynard of diabolic afiiliations were wont 
for awhile to instance the two gargoyles 
as sufficient proof. No man, they con- 
tended, who was not inspired by the 
Arch-Enemy, could have carven anything 
so sheerly evil and malignant, could have 
embodied so consummately in mere stone 
the living lineaments of the most demoni- 
acal of all the deadly Sins. 

The two gargoyles were perched on op- 
posite corners of a high tower of the ca- 
thedral. One was a snarling, murderous, 
cat-headed monster, with retracted lips re- 
vealing formidable fangs, and eyes that 
glared intolerable hatred from beneath 
ferine brows. This creature had the claws 
and wings of a griffin, and seemed as if 
it were poised in readiness to swoop down 
on the city of Vyones, like a harpy on its 
prey. Its companion was a horned satyr, 
with the vans of some great bat such as 
might roam the nether caverns, with 
sharp, clenching talons, and a look of 
Satanically brooding lust, as if it were 
gloating above the helpless object of its 
unclean desire. Both figures were com- 
plete, even to the hindquarters, and were 
not mere conventional adjuncts of the’ 
roof. One would have expected them to 
start at any moment from the stone in 
which they were mortised. 

Ambrosius, a lover of art, had been 
openly delighted with these creations, 
because of their high technical merit and 


THE MAKER OF GARGOYLES 


199 





|.»(»VA4 




'There came a thunderous crash, and 
the panes of the window were shat- 
tered to fragments." 


their verisimilitude as works of sculp- 
ture. But others, including many humbler 
dignitaries of the Church, were more or 
less scandalized, and said that the work- 
man had informed these figures with the 
visible likeness of his own vices, to the 
glory of Belial rather than of God, and 
had thus perpetrated a sort of blasphemy. 
Of course, they admitted, a certain 
amount of grotesquery was requisite in 
gargoyles; but in this case the allowable 
bounds had been egregiously overpassed. 

However, with the completion of the 
cathedral, and in spite of all this adverse 
criticism, the high-poised gargoyles of 
Blaise Reynard, like all other details of 
the building, were soon taken for granted 


through mere everyday familiarity; and 
eventually they were almost forgotten. 
The scandal of opposition died down, 
and the stone-carver himself, though the 
townsfolk continued to eye him askance, 
was able to secure other work through the 
favor of discriminating patrons. He re- 
mained in Vyones; and paid his ad- 
dresses, albeit without visible success, to 
a taverner’s daughter, one Nicolette Vil- 
lom, of whom, it was said, he had long 
been enamored in his own surly and reti- 
cent fashion. 

But Reynard himself had not forgotten 
the gargoyles. Often, in passing the 
superb pile of the cathedral, he would 
gaze up at them with a secret satisfaction 


200 


WEIRD TALES 


whose cause he could hardly have as- 
signed or delimited. They seemed to re- 
tain for him a rare and mystical meaning, 
to signalize an obscure but pleasurable 
triumph. 

He would have said, if asked for the 
reason of hts satisfaction, that he was 
proud of a skilful piece of handiwork. He 
would not have said, and perhaps would 
not even have known, that in one of the 
gargoyles he had imprisoned all his fes- 
tering rancor, all his answering spleen 
and hatred toward the people of Vyones, 
who had always hated him; and had set 
the image of this rancor to peer venom- 
ously down for ever from a lofty place. 
And perhaps he would not even have 
dreamt that in the second gargoyle he had 
somehow expressed his own dour and 
satyr-like passion for the girl Nkolette — 
a passion that had brought him back to 
the detested city of his youth after years 
of wandering; a passion singularly tena- 
cious of one object, and differing in this 
regard from the ordinary lusts of a na- 
ture so brutal as Reynard’s. 

Always to the stone-cutter, even more 
than to those who had criticized and ab- 
horred his productions, the gargoyles 
were alive, they possessed a vitality and a 
seotiency of their own. And most of all 
did they seem to Jive when the summer 
drew to an end and the autumn rains had 
gathered upon Vyones. Then, when the 
full cathedral gutters poured above the 
streets, one mi^t have thought that the 
actual spittle of a foul malevolence, the 
very slaver of an impure lust, had some- 
how been mingled with the water that ran 
in rills from the mouths of the gargoyles. 

2 

A t that time, in the year of our Lord, 
1138, Vyones was the principal town 
of the province of Averoigne. On two 
sides the great, shadow-haunted forest, a 


place of equivocal legends, of loups-garous 
and phantoms, approached to the very 
walls and flung its umbrage upon them at 
early forenoon and evening. On the other 
sides there lay cultivated fields, and gen- 
tle streams that meandered among wil- 
lows or poplars, and roads that ran 
through an open plain to the high 
chateaux of noble lords and to regirms 
beyond Averoigne. 

'The town itself was prosperous, and 
had never shared in the ill-fame of the 
bordering forest. It had long been sancti- 
fied by the presence of two nunneries 
and a monastery; and now, with the com- 
pletion of the long-planned cathedral, it 
was thought that Vyones would have 
henceforward the additional protection of 
a more august holiness; that demon and 
stryge and incubus would keep their dis- 
tance from its heaven-favored purlieus 
with a more meticulous caution than 
before. 

Of course, as in all mediaeval towns, 
there had been occasional instances of 
alleged sorcery or demoniacal possession; 
and, once or twice, the perilous tempta- 
tions of succubi had made their inroads 
on the pious virtue of Vyones. But this 
was nothing more than might be ex- 
pected, in a world where the Devil and 
his works were always more or less ram- 
pant. No one could possibly have antici- 
pated the reign of infernal horrors that 
was to make hideous the latter month of 
autumn, following the cathedral’s erec- 
tion. 

To make the matter even more inex- 
plicable, and more blasphemously dread- 
ful than it would otherwise have been, 
the first of these horrors occurred in the 
neighborhood of the cathedral itself and 
almost beneath its sheltering shadow. 

Two men, a respectable clothier named 
Guillaume Maspier and an equally repu- 


THE MAKER OF GARGOYLES 


201 


table cooper, one Gerome Mazzal, were 
returning to their lodgings in the late 
hours of a November eve, after imbibing 
both the red and white wines of the coun- 
tryside in more than one tavern. Accord- 
ing to Maspier, who alone survived to 
tell the tale, they were passing along a 
street that skirted the cathedral square, 
and could see the bulk of the great build- 
ing against the stars, when a flying mon- 
ster, black as the soot of Abaddon, had 
descended upon them from the heavens 
and assailed Gerome Mazaal, beating him 
down with its heavily flapping wings and 
seizing him with its inch-long teeth and 
talons. 

Maspier was unable to describe the 
creature witih minuteness, for he had seen 
it but dimly and partially in the unlit 
street; and moreover, the fate of his com- 
panion, who had fallen to the cobble- 
stones with the black devil snarling and 
tearing at his throat, had not induced 
Maspier to linger in that vicinity. He 
had betaken himself from the scene witfi 
all the celerity of which he was capable, 
and had stopped only at the house of a 
priest, many streets away, where be had 
related his adventure between shudder- 
ings and hiccuppings. 

Armed with holy water and aspergillus, 
and accompanied by many of the towns- 
people carrying torches, staves and hal- 
berds, the priest was led by Maspier to 
the place of the horror; and there they 
had found the body of Mazzal, with fear- 
fully mangled face, and throat and bosom 
lined with bloody lacerations. The de- 
moniac assailant had flown, and it was not 
seen or encountered again that night; but 
those who had beheld its work returned 
aghast to their homes, feeling that a crea- 
ture of nethermost hell had come to visit 
the city, and perchance to abide therein. 


C ONSTERNATION was rife on the mor- 
row, when the story became gen- 
erally known; and rites of exorcism 
against the invading demon were per- 
formed by the clergy in all public places 
and before thresholds. But the sprinkling 
of holy water and the mumbling of stated 
forms were futile; for the evil spirit was 
still abroad, and its malignity was proved 
once more, on the night following the 
ghastly death of Gerome Mazzal. 

The time, it claimed two victims, 
burghers of high probity and some conse- 
quence, on whom it descended in a nar- 
row alley, slaying ond of them instantane- 
ously, and dragging down the other from 
behind as he sought to flee. The shrill 
cries of the helpless men, and the guttural 
growling of the demon, were heard by 
people in the houses along the alley; and 
some, who were hardy enough to peer 
from their windows, had seen the depar- 
ture of the infamous assailant, blotting 
out the autumn stars with the sable and 
misshapen foulness of its wings, and 
hovering in execrable menace above the 
house-tops. 

After this, few people would venture 
abroad at night, unless in case of dire and 
exigent need; and those who did venture 
went in armed companies and were all 
furnished with flambeaux, thinking thus 
to frighten away the demon, which they 
adjudged a creature of darkness that 
would abhor the light and shrink there- 
from, through the nature of its kind. But 
the boldness of this fiend was beyond 
measure; for it proceeded to attack more 
than one company of worthy citizens, dis- 
regarding the flaring torches that were 
thrust in its face, or putting them out 
with the stenchful wind of its wide vans. 

Evidently it was a spirit of homicidal 
hate; for all the people on whom it seized 
were grievously mangled or torn to num- 
berless shreds by its teeth and talons. 
Those who saw it, and survived, were 


202 


lWEIRD tales 


wont to describe it variously and with 
much ambiguity; but all agreed in attrib- 
uting to it the head of a ferocious animal 
and tlie wings of a monstrous bird. Some, 
the most learned in demonology, were 
fain to identify k with Modo, the spirit 
of murder; and others took it for one of 
the great lieutenants of Satan, perhaps 
Amaimon or Alastor, gone mad with 
exasperation at the impregnable suprem- 
acy of Qirist in the holy city of Vyones. 

The terror that soon prevailed, be- 
neath the widening scope of these Satan- 
ical incursions and depredations, was be- 
yond all belief — a clotted, seething, devil- 
ridden gloom of superstitious obsession, 
not to be hinted in modern language. 
Even by daylight, the Gothic wings of 
nightmare seemed to brood in luidepart- 
ing oppression above the city; and fear 
was everywhere, like the foul contagion 
of some epidemic plague. The inhabi- 
tants went their way in prayer and trem- 
bling; and the archbishop himself, as well 
as the subordinate clergy, confessed an in- 
ability to cope with the ever-growing hor- 
ror. An emissary was sent to Rome, to 
procure water that had been specially 
sanctified by the Pope. This alone, it was 
thought, would be efficacious enough to 
drive away the dreadful visitant. 

In the meanwhile; the horror waxed, 
and mounted to its culmination. One eve, 
toward the middle of November, the ab- 
bot of the local monastery of Cordeliers, 
who had gone forth to administer extreme 
imction to a dying friend, was seized by 
the black devil just as he approached the 
threshold of his destination, and was slain 
in the same atrocious manner as the other 
victims. 

To this doubly infamous deed, a scarce- 
believable blasphemy was soon added. On 
the very next night, while the torn body 
of the abbot lay on a rich catafalque in 
the cathedral, and masses were being said 


and tapers burnt, the demon invaded the 
high nave through the open door, ex- 
tinguished all the candles with one flap 
of its sooty wings, and dragged down no 
less than three of the officiating priests to 
an unholy death in the darkness. 

Every one now felt that a truly formid- 
able assault was being made by the powers 
of Evil on the Christian probity of 
Vyones. In the condition of abject terror, 
of extreme disorder and demoralization 
that followed upon this new atrocity, 
there was a deplorable outbreak of human 
crime, of murder and rapine and thievery, 
together with covert manifestations of 
Satanism, and celebrations of the Black 
Mass attended by many neophytes. 

Then, in the midst of all this pande- 
moniacal fear and confusion, it was ru- 
mored that a second devil had been seen 
in Vyones; that the murderous fiend was 
accompanied by a spirit of equal de- 
formity and darkness, whose intentions 
were those of lechery, and which mo- 
lested none but women. This creature had 
frightened several dames and demoiselles 
and maid-servants into a veritable hysteria 
by peering through their bedroom win- 
dows; and had sidled lasciviously, with 
uncouth mows and grimaces, and gro- 
tesque flappings of its bat-shaped wings, 
toward others who had occasion to fare 
from house to house across the nocturnal 
streets. 

• However, strange to say, there were no 
authentic instances in which the chastity of 
any woman had suffered actual harm from 
this noisome incubus. Many were ap- 
proached by it, and were terrified immod- 
erately by the hideousness and lustfulness 
of its demeanor; but no one was ever 
touched. Even in that time of horror, both 
spiritual and corporeal, there were those 
who made a ribald jest of this singular 
abstention on the part of the demon, and 


THE MAKER OF GARGOYLES 


203 


said that it was seeking throughout 
Vyones for some one whom it had not 
yet found. 

3 

T he lodgings of Blaise Reynard were 
separated only by the length of a 
dark and crooked alley from the tavern 
kept by Jean Villom, fte father of Nico- 
lette. In this tavern, Reynard had been 
wont to spend his evenings; though his 
suit was frowned upon by Jean Villom, 
Mid had received but scant encouragement 
from the girl herself. However, because 
of his well-filled purse and his almost il- 
limitable capacity for wine, Reynard was 
tolerated. He came early each night, with 
the falling of darkness, and would sit in 
silence hour after hour, staring with hot 
and sullen eyes at Nicolette, and gulping 
joylessly the potent vintages of Ave- 
roigne. Apart from their desire to retain 
his custom, the people of the tavern were 
a little afraid of him, on account of his 
dubious and semi-sorcerous reputation, 
and also because of his surly temper. They 
did not wish to antagonize him more than 
was necessary. 

Like everyone else in Vyones, Reynard 
had felt the suffocating burden of super- 
stitious terror during those nights when 
the fiendish marauder was hovering above 
the town and might descend on the luck- 
less wayfarer at any moment, in any lo- 
cality. Nothing less urgent and impera- 
tive than the obsession of his half-bestial 
longing for Nicolette could have induced 
him to traverse after dark the length of 
that winding alley to the tavern door. 

The autumn nights had been moonless. 
Now, on the evening that followed the 
desecration of the cathedral itself by tlie 
murderous devil, a new-born crescent was 
lowering its fragile, sanguine-colored 
horn beyond the house-tops as Reynard 
went forth from his lodgings at the ac- 
customed hour. He lost sight of its com- 


forting beam in the high-walled and nar- 
row alley, and shivered with dread as he 
hastened onward through shadows that 
were dissipated only by the rare and timid 
ray ftom some lofty window. It seemed 
to him, at each turn and angle, that the 
gloom was curded by the unclean um- 
brage of Satanic wings, and might reveal 
in another instant the gleaming of abhor- 
rent eyes ignited by the everlasting, coals 
of the Pit. When he came forth at the 
alley’s end, he saw with a start of fresh 
panic that the crescent moon was blotted 
out by a cloud that had the semblance of 
uncouthly arched and pointed vans. 

He reached the tavern with a sense of 
supreme relief, for he had begun to feel 
a distinct intuition that someone or some- 
thing was following him, unheard and in- 
visible — a presence that seemed to load 
the dusk with prodigious menace. He en- 
tered, and closed the door behind him 
very quickly, as if he were shutting It in 
the face of a dread pursuer. 

There Were few people in the tavern 
that evening. The girl Nicolette was 
serving wine to a mercer’s assistant, one 
Raoul Coupaln, a personable youth and a 
newcomer in the neighborhood, and Ae 
was laughing with what Reynard con- 
sidered unseenffy gayety at the broad jests 
and amorous sallies of this Raoul. Jean 
Villom was discussing in a low voice the 
latest enormities of the demons with two 
cronies at a table in the farthest corner, 
and was drinking fully as much liquor as 
his customers. 

Glowering with jealousy at the pres- 
ence of Raoul Coupairt, whom he suspect- 
ed of being a favored rival, Reynard 
seated himself in silence and stared ma- 
lignly at the flirtatious couple. No one 
seemed to have noticed his entrance; for 
Villom went on talking to his cronies 
without pause or interruption, and Nko- 
lefte and her companion were equally 
oblivious. To his jealous rage, Reynafd 


204 


WEIRD TALES 


soon added the resentment of one who 
feels that he is being deliberately ignored. 
He began to pound on the table with his 
heavy fists, to attract attention. 

Villom, who had been sitting all the 
while with his back turned, now called 
out to Nicolette without even troubling 
to face around on his stool, telling her to 
serve Reynard. Giving a backward smile 
at Coupain, she came slowly and with 
open reluctance to the stone-carver’s table. 

She was small and buxom, with red- 
dish-gold hair that curled luxuriantly 
above the short, delicious oval of her face; 
and she was gowned in a tight-fitting 
dress of apple-green that revealed the 
firm, seductive outlines of her hips and 
bosom. Her air was disdainful and a little 
cold, for she did not like Reynard and 
had taken small pains at any time to con- 
ceal her aversion. But to Reynard she was 
lovelier and more desirable than ever, and 
he felt a savage impulse to seize her in 
his arms and carry her bodily away from 
the tavern before the eyes of Raoul Cou- 
pain and her father. 

"Bring me a pitcher of La Frenaie,” he 
ordered gruffly, in a voice that betrayed 
his mingled resentment and desire. 

Tossing her head lightly and scorn- 
fully, with more glances at Coupain, the 
girl obeyed. She placed the fiery, blood- 
dark wine before R^nard without speak- 
ing, and then went back to resume her 
bantering with the mercer’s assistant. 

Reynard began to drink, and the potent 
vintage merely served to inflame his 
smoldering enmity and passion. His eyes 
became venomous, his curling lips malig- 
nant as those of the gargoyles he had 
carved on the new cathedral. A baleful, 
primordial anger, like the rage of some 
morose and thwarted faun, burned within 
him with its slow red fire; but he strove 
to repress it, and sat silent and motionless, 
except for the frequent filling and empty- 
ing of his wine-cup. 


Raoul Coupain had also consumed a 
liberal quantity of wine. As a result, he 
soon became bolder in his love-making, 
and strove to kiss the hand of Nicolette, 
who had now seated herself on the bench 
beside him. The hand was playfully with- 
held; and then, after its owner had cuflFed 
Raoul very lightly and briskly, was grant- 
ed to the claimant in a fashion that struck 
Reynard as being no less than wanton. 

Snarling inarticulately, with a mad im- 
pulse to rush forward and slay the suc- 
cessful rival with his bare hands, he 
started to his feet and stepped toward the 
playful pair. His movement was noted by 
one of the men in the far corner, who 
spoke warningly to Villom. The tavern- 
keeper arose, lurching a little from his 
potations, and came warily across the 
room with his eyes on Reynard, ready to 
interfere in case of violence. 

R eynard paused with momentary ir- 
. resolution, and then went on, half 
insane with a mounting hatred for them 
all. He longed to kill Villom and Cou- 
pain, to kill the hateful cronies who sat 
staring from the corner; and then, above 
their throttled corpses, to ravage with 
fierce kisses and vehement caresses the 
shrinking lips and body of Nicolette. 

Seeing the approach of the stone- 
carver, and knowing his evil temper and 
dark jealousy, Coupain also rose to his 
feet and plucked stealthily beneath his 
cloak at the hilt of a little dagger which 
he carried. In the meanwhile, Jean Vil- 
lom had interposed his burly bulk be- 
tween the rivals. For the sake of the tav- 
ern’s good repute, he wished to prevent 
the possible brawl. 

"Back to your table, stone-cutter,’’ he 
roared belligerently at Reynard. 

Being unarmed, and seeing himself 
outnumbered, Reynard paused again, 
though his anger still simmered within 
him like the contents of a sorcerer’s caul- 


THE MAKER OF GARGOYLES 


205 


dron. With ruddy points of murderous 
flame in his hollow, slitted eyes, he glared 
at the tliree people before him, and saw 
beyond them, with instinctive rather than 
conscious awareness, the leaded panes of 
the tavern window, in whose glass the 
room was dimly reflected with its glowing 
tapers, its glimmering tableware, the 
heads of Coupain and Villom and the girl 
Nicolette, and his own shadowy face 
among them. 

Strangely, and, it would seem, incon- 
sequently, he remembered at that moment 
the dark, ambiguous cloud he had seen 
across the moon, and the insistent feeling 
of obscure pursuit while he had traversed 
the alley. 

Then, as he still gazed irresolutely at 
the group before him, and its vague re- 
flection in the glass beyond, there came a 
thunderous crash, and the panes of the 
window with their pictured scene were 
shattered inward in a score of fragments. 
Ere the litter of falling glass had reached 
the tavern floor, a swart and monstrous 
form flew into the room, with a beating 
of heavy vans that caused the tapers to 
flare troublously, and the shadows to 
dance like a sabbat of misshapen devils. 
The thing hovered for a moment, and 
seemed to tower in a great darkness 
higher than the ceiling above the heads of 
Reynard and the others as they turned to- 
ward it. They saw the malignant burning 
of its eyes, like coals in the depth of Tar- 
tarean pits, and the curling of its hateful 
lips on the bared teeth that were longer 
and sharper than serpent-fangs. 

Behind it now, another shadowy flying 
monster came in through the broken win- 
dow with a loud flapping of its ribbed 
and pointed wings. There was something 
lascivious in the very motion of its flight, 
even as homicidal hatred and malignity 
were manifest in the flight of the other. 
Its satyr-like face was twisted in a hor- 
rible, never-changing leer, and its lustful 


eyes were fixed upon Nicolette as it hung 
in air beside the first intruder. 

Reynard, as well as the other men, was 
petrified by a feeling of astonishment and 
consternation so extreme as almost to pre- 
clude terror. Voiceless and motionless, 
they beheld the demoniac intrusion; and 
the consternation of Reynard, in particu- 
lar, was mingled with an element of un- 
speakable surprize, together with a dread- 
ful recognizance. But the girl Nicolette, 
with a mad scream of horror, turned and 
started to flee across the room. 

As if her cry had be^ the one provoca- 
tion needed, the two demons swooped 
upon their victims. One, with a ferocious 
slash of its outstretched claws, tore open 
the throat of Jean Villom, who fell with 
a gurgling, blood-choked groan; and 
then, in the same fashion, it assailed 
Raoul Coupain. The other, in the mean- 
while, had pursued and overtaken the 
fleeing girl, and had seized her in its 
bestial forearms, with the ribbed wings 
enfolding her like a hellish drapery. 

The room was filled by a moaning 
whirlwind, by a chaos of wild cries and 
tossing, struggling shadows. Reynard 
heard the guttural snarling of the mur- 
derous monster, muffled by the body of 
Coupain, whom it was tearing with its 
teeth; and he heard the lubricous laughter 
of the incubus, above the shrieks of the 
hysterically frightened girl. Then the gro- 
tesquely flaring tapers went out in a gust 
of swirling air, and Reynard received a 
violent blow in the darkness — the blow 
of some rushing object, perhaps of a pass- 
ing wing, that was hard and heavy as 
stone. He fell, and became insensible. 

4 

D ully and confusedly, with much ef- 
fort, Reynard struggled back to con- 
sciousness. For a brief interim, he could 
not remember where he was nor what had 


206 


WEIRD TALES 


happened. He was troubkd by the pain- 
ful throbbing of his head, by the hum- 
ming of agitated voices about him, by the 
glaring of many lights and the thronging 
of many faces when he opened his eyes; 
and, above all, by the sense of nameless 
but grievous calamity and uttermost hor- 
ror that weighed him down from the first 
dawning of sentiency. 

Memory returned to him, laggard and 
reluctant; and with it, a full awareness of 
his surroundings and situation. He was 
lying on the tavern floor, and his own 
warm, sticky blood was rilling across his 
face from the wound on his aching head. 
The long room was half filled witli people 
of the neighborhood, bearing torches and 
knives and halberds, who had entered and 
were peering at the corpses of Villom and 
G)upain, which lay amid pools of wine- 
diluted blood and the wreckage of the 
shattered furniture and tableware. 

Nicolette, with her green gown in 
shreds, and her body crushed by the em- 
braces of the demon, was moaning feebly 
while women crowded about her with in- 
effectual cries and questions which she 
could not even hear or understand. The 
two cronies of Villom, horribly clawed 
and mangled, were dead beside their over- 
turned table. 

Stupefied with horror, and still dizzy 
from the blow that had laid him uncon- 
scious, Reynard staggered to his feet, and 
found himself surrounded at once by in- 
quiring faces and voices. Some of the peo- 
ple were a little suspicious of him, since 
he was the sole survivor in the tavern, and 
bore an ill repute; but his replies to their 
questions soon convinced them that the 
new aime was wholly the work of the 
same demons that had plagued Vyones in 
so monstrous a fashion for weeks past. 

Reynard, however, was unable to tell 
them all that he had seen, or to confess 
the ultimate sources of his fear and stupe- 
faction, The secret of that which he knew 


was locked in the seething pit of his tor- 
tured and devil-ridden soul. 

Somehow, he left the ravaged inn, he 
pushed his way through the gathering 
crowd with its terror-muted murmurs, 
and found himself alone on the midni^t 
streets. Heedless of his own possible 
peril, and scarcely knowing where he 
went, he wandered through Vyones for 
many hours; and somewhile in his wan- 
derings, he came to his own workshop. 
With no assignable reason for the act, he 
entered, and re-emerged with a heavy 
hammer, which he carried with him dur- 
ing his subsequent peregrinations. Then, 
driven by his awful and unremissive tor- 
ture, he went on till the pale dawn had 
touclied the spires and the house-tops 
with a ghostly glimmering. 

By a half-conscious compulsion, his 
steps had led him to the square before the 
cathedral. Ignoring the amazed verger, 
who had just opened the doors, he en- 
tered and sought a stairway that wound 
tortuously upward to the tower on which 
his own gargoyles were ensconced. 

In the chill and livid light of sunless 
morning, he emerged on the roof; and 
leaning perilously from the verge, he ex- 
amined the carven figures. He felt no sur- 
prize, only the hideous confirmation of a 
fear too ghastly to be named, when he saw 
that the teeth and claws of the malign, cat- 
headed griffin were stained with darken- 
ing blood; and that shreds of apple-green 
cloth were hanging from the talons of the 
lustful, bat-winged satyr. 

It seemed to Reynard, in the dim ashen 
light, that a look of unspeakable triumph, 
of intolerable irony, was imprinted on the 
face of this latter creature. He stared at 
it with fearful and agonizing fascination, 
while impotent rage, abhorrence, and re- 
pentance deeper than that of the damned 
arose within him in a smothering flood. 
He was hardly aware that he had raised 
the iron hammer and had struck wildly at 


'IHE MAKER OF GARGOYLES 


207 


the satyr’s homed profile, till he heard the 
sullen, angry clang of impact, and found 
that he was tottering on the edge of the 
roof to retain his balance. 

The furious blow had merely chipped 
the features of the gargoyle, and had not 
wiped away the malignant lust and exulta- 
tion. Again Reynard raised the heavy 
hammer. 

It fell on empty air; for, even as he 
stmck, the stone-carver felt himself lifted 
and drawn backward by something that 
sank into his flesh like many separate 
knives. He staggered helplessly, his feet 
slipped, and then he was lying on the 
granite verge, with his head and shoul- 
ders over the dark, deserted street. 

Half swooning, and sick with pain, he 
saw above him the other gargoyle, the 
claws of whose right foreleg were firmly 
embedded in his shoulder. They tore 
deeper, as if with a dreadful clenching. 
The monster seemed to tower like some 
fabulous beast above its prey; and he felt 
himself slipping dizzily across the cathe- 
dral gutter, with the gargoyle twisting 
and turning as if to resume its normal 
position over the gulf. Its slow, inexor- 
able movement seemed to be part of his 
vertigo. The very tower was tilting and 
revolving beneath him in some unnatural 
nightmare fashion. 

Dimly, in n daze of fear and agony, 
Reynard saw the remorseless tiger-face 
bending toward him with its horrid teeth 
laid bare in an eternal rictus of diabolic 
hate. Somehow, he had retained the ham- 
mer. With an instinctive impulse to de- 
fend himself, he struck at the gargoyle, 
whose cruel features seemed to approach 
him like something seen in the ulti- 


mate madness and distortion of delirium. 

Even as he struck, the vertiginous turn- 
ing movement continued, and he felt the 
talons dragging him outward on empty 
air. In his cramped, recumbent position, 
the blow fell short of the hateful face and 
came down with a dull clangor on the 
foreleg whose curving talons were fixed 
in his shoulder like meat-hooks. The 
clangor ended in a sharp cracking sound; 
and the leaning gargoyle vanished from 
Reynard’s vision as he fell. He saw noth- 
ing more, except the dark mass of the ca- 
thedral tower, that seemed to soar away 
from him and to rush upward unbeliev- 
ably in the livid, starless heavens to which 
the belated sun had not yet risen. 

I T WAS the archbishop Ambrosius, on 
his way to early mass, who found the 
shattered body of Reynard lying face 
downward in the square. Ambrosius 
crossed himself in startled horror at die 
sight; and then, when he saw the object 
that was still clinging to Reynard’s shoul- 
der, he repeated the gesture with a more 
than pious promptness. 

He bent down to examine the thing. 
With the infallible memory of a true art- 
lover, he recognized it at once. Then, 
through the same clearness of recollection, 
he saw that the stone foreleg, whose 
claws were so deeply buried in Reynard’s 
flesh, had somehow undergone a most un- 
natural alteration. The paw, as he re- 
membered it, should have been slightly 
bent and relaxed; but now it was stiffly 
outthrust and elongated, as if, like the 
paw of a living limb, it had reached for 
something, or had dragged a heavy bur- 
den with its ferine talons. 


/jT lidnight Confession 

^ By J. PAUL SUTER 

From the death eetl in the big prison came a weird summons to right 

a grave wrong 


D octor MADDERN threw back 
the gray hair from his forehead 
with a petulant flick of his long 
hand. He had been impatient with the 
telephone receiver, too, snapping it back 
upon the hook as if it had been to blame. 
Now his ruddy face crinkled in a little 
sardonic smile at the futility of both ges- 
tures. The telephone was not at fault. 
Neither was his hair. Nevertheless, even 
a doctor, inured as doctors are to unpleas- 
ant scenes, should not be expected to wel- 
come an interview with a patient con- 
demned to be hanged within two weeks. 

Of course, he would go. The warden 
had said "at once,” and had rather in- 
sisted on a promise. And delay would not 
help matters. Every day, Maddem con- 
jectured, would make Crawford a little 
more desperate, a little harder to talk to. 
The shadow of the gallows would sink 
deeper into his soul, ^^at a fool the man 
had been! There really had been nothing 
to hinder his illicit love affair. Mrs. Craw- 
ford had been too ill to interfere, and she 
would have died in a year or so, anyway. 
.Why should he have poisoned her? 

Maddern shrugged his stylishly coated 
shoulders, and rose to answer his wealthy 
patient’s appeal. He had not far to go. It 
was one of the curious features of the sen- 
sational Crawford case — a feature which 
the newspapers had not overlooked — ^that 
a circle with less than a quarter-mile 
radius included the abodes of all the prin- 
cipal participants, including even the 
chief witnesses. Appropriately in the cen- 
ter of the circle stood Mrs. Trelevant’s 
208 


prim old mansion. Some nimble reporter 
had dubbed her the "gossiping widow,” 
in recognition of what her tongue had 
done to bring her next-door neighbor to 
the gallows. But for her, Crawford might 
still have been leading his free, sophisti- 
cated life. She had started the stories 
which had led the police first to incline 
their ears incredulously, then to exhume 
the remains; and hard upon that, follow- 
ing the discovery of arsenic in the stom- 
ach, had come the indictment and the trial 
— with Carrie Trelevant as chief witne^ 
for the state. 

As he descended his own steps, Mad- 
dern could look directly across the aristo- 
cratic square at her house and Crawford’s, 
side by side, and at Crawford’s garage, 
over which John Chubbs, his chauffeur, 
lived — another witness for the state. Nor 
was that the limit of the curious "Cra.w- 
ford Case” congestion. Tor Warden Ster- 
ling, of the penitentiary, resided not two 
blocks from the doctor’s. He, too, was a 
patient of Maddern’s. And little Nonnie 
Jones had lived at the extreme southern 
edge of the half-mile circle, in the poor 
Smoky Gulch district. Maddern’s rather 
stern face softened a trifle as he thought 
of her. She was Mrs. Crawford, now. 
The poor devil had done the right thing. 
He had married her shortly after his 
wife’s death. 

But one grim piece of stage property 
remained to complete the grouping for 
that sinister circle, and it was there. For 
a brisk twenty minutes’ walk, directly past 
the Crawford and the Trelevant places, 

W. T.— 4 


A MIDNIGHT CONFESSION 


209 



'*Read Mt,” the said abntfilf. 


brought Maddem to the penitentiary, 
where Crawford resided now, where he 
was to die. 

Warden Sterling was ticketed in Mad- 
dern’s mind as an inn-keeper of coaching 
days, who had come a century too late to 
his fat perfection. In his office to the left 
of the main corridor, he wheezed and 
blinked hospitality. His sides quivered. 
His small, bright eyes twinkled. Maddern 
reflected unpleasantly as he shook the war- 
den’s welcoming hand that doubtless the 
same cordial reception had greeted Craw- 
ford. Sterling prided himself on making 
his charges feel at home. Could the man 
be decently funereal, the doctor wondered, 
when he hanged them? 

"You walked, doc? Yes, yes! Nothing 
like it, nothing like it! I do as much as 
you, Aough you wouldn’t think it. Not 
so many steps, but the exercise is there. 
Three times as much weight lifted with 
each step. Get it, doc?’’ He prodded the 
tall, silent doctor in the ribs, and brought 
up a deep chuckle from the region of his 
Stomach. 'Ihen, with no change in his 


jovial tone: "Crawford wants to talk to 
you. Awfully sad case! It will seem like 
hanging one’s own brother. He wants to 
see you in his cell. In his cell, he says. I 
told him he’d have to talk pretty low not 
to be overhead, but he kept on insisting. 
Is it all right, d(K? You’ll see him there?’’ 

Madderh nodded, and slipped in a 
query as to how the warden’s liver had 
been behaving. That delayed the inter- 
view ten minutes more; but wifh what 
seemed undue speed, nevertheless, he 
found himself sitting side by side on a 
cot, alone with the cotrdemned man, and 
the cell door locked. 

T he light was bad. The fact that he 
was actually within a cell in the 
death row caused the doctor a little in- 


.W.T.— 5 


210 


WEIRD TALES 


ward panic — after all, no one knows what 
the future will bring him — Lem Craw- 
ford would not have guessed anything 
like this, a year before. Life in the cell 
seemed stiff and unnatural, like the open- 
ing and closing of dead fingers under gal- 
vanic force. Yet, for all that, Maddern 
found himself startled at how little his 
old patient had changed. Crawford had 
gone through this, and his curly brown 
hair was still carefully brushed, his face 
cleanly shaven. There was still about his 
rounded person the sleekness and poise of 
the high-bred gentleman. Even his voice, 
carefully lowered to the requirements of 
the cell, had lost little of its careless lan- 
guor. Many an evening, in the well- 
fumished Crawford library, the man now 
condemned to die had talked with him 
over the cigars in just that tone. As if to 
bring the past back even more strikingly, 
Crawford began the conversation with 
one of his infectious laughs. 

*'Perk up a little. Mad,” he entreated. 
"You’re not going to be hanged, you 
know!” 

"I wish you were not,” the doctor re- 
sponded, stiffly. 

Crawford grinned maliciously at the 
inane reply. 

"I was sure you’d never have wished 
anything like this on me. But tell me 
something, old man.” He darted a keen 
glance into Maddern’s embarrassed face. 
"On your honor, now! Cross your heart, 
and all that! Do you think I’m a mur- 
derer?” 

The doctor was terribly perturbed. His 
eyes dropped. He was framing an evasive 
reply, when the prisoner laughed, dryly. 

"Thanks, Mad. You have a beautifully 
expressive face. But don’t you see how 
my question clears the air? We under- 
stand each other, now. I can’t say that I 
blame you.” He looked off, reminiscently, 
into the gray twilight of the cell. "Under 


the same circumstances. I’d believe you 
guilty. Certainly, I should!” 

He grinned into the fascinated but 
half-averted eyes of the doctor. 

"Don’t look so serious, Mad! It’s not 
going to be very awful. A little darkness 
before the eyes, a little annoying tightness 
around the neck, a jerk, and — bye-bye! 
That’s all. I am actually looking forward 
to it. It will be a new sensation — I’ve had 
all the old ones. All except suicide, and 
I’ve been tempted at times to try that. I 
nearly drowned once, in my school days — 
down for the third time — and I’m mak- 
ing a bet with myself this won’t be so 
rotten as that. Wish you could hold the 
stakes, old man. Still, there is something 
you can do for me.” 

Maddern was beginning to murmur 
that he would be delighted, when the 
prisoner’s sardonic grin stopped him. 

"Don’t be too sure. I’m going to ask 
you to believe me innocent for the next 
ten minutes. Can you do it?” 

"I’ll try.” 

"Very good. To make it easier for you. 
Mad, I am going to say to you, as one 
gentleman to another, that I didn’t kill 
my wife. 'This needn’t affect your conclu- 
sions from the evidence. It is merely my 
assurance to you, as a gentleman. If I 
were really guilty, I could not reasonably 
ask you to believe me innocent, even for 
ten minutes. You see that?” 

The physician nodded. Crawford 
grinned again, somewhat more maliciously 
than before. 

"Do you know. I’m sorry for you. 
Mad,” he went on. "You old, hidebound, 
religious bachelor, with your spiritistic 
theories and all the rest of it! You’re due 
to be horribly shocked, in another minute. 
I’m going to confess to you that all they 
said about little Nonnie and me was true 
— in a general way, that is. I think most 
of Carrie Trelevant’s evidence was made 


A MIDNIGHT CONFESSION 


211 


up out of het bead. She had no diance to 
see my goings on, except when I visited 
her. But Chubbs, my diauffeur — he was 
a damned poor sport to say what he did, 
after the way I treated him — he had it 
tight. Oh, yes, he had it right.” Craw- 
fotd stroked his smooth cheek with his 
{dump, weft-manicured hand, and made a 
wty face. "I married Nonnie immediately 
after Mabel died; that was the thing to do. 
But we kept the marriage a secret, be- 
cause ” He laughed. "Well, you’d 

have k^ it a secret, wouldn’t you?” 

“I suppose so,” Maddem admitted, 
shortly. 

• "So much for that, then. Does it startle 
you to know that, within two weeks after 
Mabel died — which, by the way, was a 
week aft«: I married Nonnie — -Carrie 
Trelevant proposed marriage to me? Does 
that startle you, old man?” 

The doctor nodded — ^which indicator 
of his feelings was made more convincing 
by the fact that he actually had started at 
the disclosure. 

"I thought it might,” Crawford went 
on, with a flitting smile. "She’s such a 
proper 'old maid.’ I’ll bet dlie talks :^rit- 
ism and higher life to you by (he hour 
when you call to treat her nerves. But 
she had taken it for granted — taken it for 
granted., mind you! — that I had been in 
love with her all along, and had only been 
waiting for Mabel to die so I’d be free to 
marry her. Now, Mad, she has been your 
patient for years. Can you surmise how 
she acted when I declined her overtures — 
which I was obliged to do rather violently 
before she would believe me In earnest?” 

Doctor Maddern gazed thoughtfully at 
the bare floor of the cell, then at the smil- 
ingly expectant face of the condemned 
man. 

''I should say that she mustiiave been 
furious,” he said, at last. 

Crawford grinned. 

"1 suppose 'furious’ will have 10 


serve,” he agreed. "It seems hardly 
strong enough, but I don’t know a 
stronger. The thing happened in her 
drawing-room. I had gone over there to 
pay her a neighborly visit — ^to chat a little. 
We had a good many interests in com- 
mon, and she isn’t dull, you know. I 
won’t tell you what she did, or exactly 
what she said. It hardly seems fair for me 
to tell you that. But v^en it was all over 
— when she understood, beyond doubt, 
that I valued her as a friend and irothing 
more — she simply stood up, white and 
dumb, and motioned me from toe room. 

I think she could have killed me at that 
moment. I’m sure she could, some weeks 
later, when the news of my marriage 
leaked out. It was just after that news 
that she began talking about me.” 

"When she began to tell about your 
administering the medicine to Mrs. Craw- 
ford?” the doctor demanded. 

Crawford nodded. 

"She told it like an artist. I couldn’t’ 
deny a word. Sie did run over to tea with 
Mabel, just as she said. And I did mix 
the medicine. She left the inference that I 
mixed some arsenic in with it, and what 
could I say to that but deny It? Of course, 

I had opportunity. I use it in my garden. 
So does she — so do you. The damning 
thing against me at toe trial was, that I 
seemed to have motive. She had motive, 
too. She might easily have dropped toe 
poison into Mabel’s tea. But who was to 
believe she had proposed to me? I had no 
witnesses to that.” 

He stopped, suddenly, and shrugged 
his shoulders with a laugh. 

"You attended Mabel, old man. Why 
didn’t you call it death by poisoning?” he 
demanded. 

"Because, in her condition, any irrita- 
tion of toe stomach could have caused 
those symptoms, and have hastened the 
end,” Maddem replied. 

"Did toe idei of arsenic occur to you?" 


212 


WEIRD TALES 


The doctor hesitated; then he said: 
"Later. After your second marriage be- 
came public.” 

"But you were too good a sport to ad- 
vertise it?” 

"Why should I? It was only a suspi- 
cion. She had eaten both strawberries and 
pickles at lunch, against my orders. That 
would have been quite sufficient.” 

Crawford levelled a whimsical glance 
at his guest. 

'Tm afraid my ten minutes is up. Give 
me a renewal for another ten. I want you 
to continue believing in me until I’m 
through. What would you say, old chap, 
if I suggested a plan by which you might 
possibly get me clear of the noose?” 

The doctor looked up with utter in- 
credulity on his face. 

"I fear ” he began. 

"Of course you do. You fear it^an’t 
be done. And perhaps it can’t. But for- 
, get that for a minute and answer a ques- 
tion for me. You know Carrie. You know 
her kinks and her hobbies. What’s the 
chief one of them all?” 

"You mean spiritism?” Doctor Mad- 
dern inquired, slowly. 

Crawford nodded, with a little chuckle 
of satisfaction. 

"I knew there couldn’t be two answers 
to that question. I’ve had some dealings 
with the lady, too. If ever any one be- 
lieved in ghosts, she does! Very well — 
suppose a ghost appeared to her, and 
commanded her to confess in writing — 
would she do it?” 

"Whose ghost?” the doctor demanded. 

"Mine.” 

A g<X)D many years of active practise, 
during which he had been father 
confessor to most human quirks and 
weaknesses, had inoculated Doctor Mad- 
dem quite effectively against surprize. Yet 
he started slightly, seeing which the ma- 


licious grin of the condemned man broad- 
ened. 

"Answer the question just as it stands. 
Mad. I’ve a good reason for asking it.” 

"Well ” 'The doctor passed a long 

hand thoughtfully over his forehead. 
"Taking your question at its face value, 
then, I should say this: that if Carrie 
Trelevant should be guilty, such an ap- 
parition as you mention very likely would 
bring her to confess. But if she should 
not be guilty ” 

Crawford leaned forward, with a sud- 
den brightening of the eyes. 

"If she should not be guilty — yes. 
What then?” 

"She wouldn’t confess, even for a 
ghost. She is too strong-minded. She’d 
want to know why, if the thing was super- 
natural, it should be accusing her falsely.” 

'"That’s fine, old chap.” Crawford’s in- 
fectious laugh rang through the cell, 
though he was careful not to raise his 
voice when he spoke again. "If you think 
the lady would not confess unless she 
really is guilty, you shouldn’t object to 
help me induce a confession. Could you 
call here tomorrow?” 

"Probably,” the doctor answered, dubi- 
ously. 

"Drop in at my house on the way over. 
Get my keys from Wilson — I’ve kept him 
on. 'liiere’s one key in the bunch which 
fits the Trelevant grade door. Mabel 
found it out, months ago, by chance — she 
and Carrie were always visiting back and 
forth, you know. I’ll fix the details witli 
old Sterling, then you can talk with Carrie 
late tomorrow evening.” 

Doctor Maddern looked blank, and the 
condemned man went on, with a trace of 
his mischievous grin. 

"Perhaps I had better explain, before 
you try to save me on a lunacy plea. You’ll 
call upon Mrs. Carrie Trelevant tomor- 
row evening. Inform her that I am dead. 


A MIDNIGHT CONFESSION 


213 


Explain that I committed suicide in my 
cell. Opening a vein will answer as well 
as anything else. Add any frills you wish, 
but make the matter of my death perfectly 
clear. Will you do that.^” 

"Go on with the rest of your plan,” 
Maddern said. 

"The rest depends somewhat on old 
Sterling. He has known me for years — 
ever since I was a youngster. He doesn’t 
believe me guilty. This is confidential, of 
course, but” — ^he lowered his voice to a 
barely audible whisper — "he offered to let 
me escape, after the governor refused a 
commutation — said he’d take the conse- 
quences himself. Of course, I wouldn’t 
accept. Even if I could have made a get- 
away, it would have been a rotten thing 
to do to poor old Sterling. But he knows 
about this plan. He is going to let me out 
at midnight tomorrow night. You can 
wait at home for a telephone call from 
Carrie Trelevant. It will come — if the 
trick has worked. When you have her 
written confession — if you have it — bring 
it to old Sterling. He deserves the first 
sight of it. He is going to spend the night 
in his office. I will be back in my cell long 
before that, and he will bring the news up 
to me.” 

Maddern stared. 

"Do you think this wild, hair-brained 
scheme is likely to succeed.^” he de- 
manded, slowly. 

"It’s a forlorn hope, I admit. Suppose 
it doesn’t work. Who will be most likely 
to suffer — besides myself?” 

'The doctor hesitated. 

"Probably I shall be — though I can al- 
ways take refuge under misinformation.” 

"Are you willing to accept the chance?” 

Strangely enough, upon that, the most 
momentous question of all. Doctor Mad- 
dern did not hesitate. He rose, and ex- 
tended his hand. 

"It might work,” he conceded, doubt- 
fully. "At any rate, I am willing to chance 


it.” He smiled, and shrugged his shoul- 
ders. "When I came in here, Lem, I 
thought you guilty. Now, I’m not so sure. 
If Mrs. Trelevant did it — and if she be- 
lieves you dead, and out of the reach of 
her vengeance — who knows? — she might 
confess.” 

He was met in the lower hall by the 
jovial warden, whose round face was al- 
most serious. 

"Are you going to do it, doc?” he whis- 
pered; and, when Maddern nodded: 

"Don’t think I’m taking a chance. I’ve 
known him all his life, and he’s a gentle- 
man. He’ll come back. I’ll spend the 
night here myself so as to fix his getting 
out and coming in. Not a single, solitary 
soul will be a bit the wiser, doc. It’s a 
craay thing to do, but” — he repeated the 
doctor’s own words of a few minutes be- 
fore — "it might work.” 

C ARRIE TRELEVANT rose with Out- 
stretched hand to greet the doctor. 
Usually she amused him — all her move- 
ments seemed so carefully calculated to 
show her to the best advantage. She had 
her day and her night technique — ^the lat- 
ter being in evidence just now. Did she 
ever, he wondered, vary her initial posi- 
tion in the big Turkish chair by more than 
the fraction of an inch? When he called 
upon her after nightfall, that was where 
she was to be found : curled up in it, like 
a girl; her face drooped pensively over a 
book — but not drooped too far, lest the 
yellow light of the piano lamp should 
emphasize her over-high forehead. She al- 
ways looked up, with an unsophisticated 
start which gave excuse for a moment of 
surprized, rounded eyes — she had pretty 
black eyes. Next, she ran half a dozen 
steps toward the door, then suddenly re- 
membered to be dignified. Maddern saw 
her go through it all, as he had seen it 
before. 'The usual reflection crossed his 
mind — that the kittenish tricks of the girl 


214 


3J7EIRD TALES 


of twenty should have been lost some- 
tvhere on the road to thirty-five; but to- 
night she frightened him a little, too. Was 
she, after all, dangerous? Suppose she 
should read his mind? His conscience 
troubled him slightly, because of the trick 
he was about to play upon her; because, 
loo, of his visit to the penitentiary that 
morning, when he had left Lem Craw- 
ford the bunch of keys. He had been 
treating her for five years — ^with the end- 
less treatments demanded by a wealthy 
woman whose illness is mainly of the 
imagination. He knew her well. At least, 
he thought that he did. But he had never 
Considered her dangerous. 

"Oh, you busy man!” she began, in her 
low contralto. This was her bantering 
technique — ^he knew that, too. "You 
have so many really important engage- 
ments tomorrow. You can’t spare a mo- 
ment for little me. So you are here to- 
night, instead. That was why you tel- 
ephoned, wasn’t it — Doctor Maddern?” 

Even the last two words were carefully 
calculated — drawled, teasingly, as if she 
had almost a mind to call him by his first 
name, but dared not. Sometimes he en- 
jc^ed her teasing. Tonight it seemed out 
of place. 

"This isn’t a professional call,” he said, 
gravely. "I have news.” 

"News?” A rising, nicely moduia:ted 
inflection. The rounded eye technique. 

"News of Lem Crawford.” 

"Oh.” 

No technique at all about that mono- 
^laNe. She had thrown ifrto neutral. She 
was watching him narrowly as she sub- 
sided again into her Tutkish chair, and 
he disposed hhnself in a pliant wicker^ 
which was a favorite of his. 

“Lam is not going to be hanged, afta: 
all.” 

That got her! She was sitting upright 
in a second. 


"Has his sentence been commuted?” 
she blazed at him. 

He smiled, sadly; slowly shook his 
head. 

"You don’t mean — a pardon?” 

"Neither a commutation nor a pardon. 
Lem is no longer in the penitentiary. He 
has escaped.” 

He could see her relax, and hear the 
outrush of her breath. 

"They’ll catch him,” she said, lightly. 

He paused a moment, then let her have 
it. 

"Not where Jbe has gone. Lem com- 
mitted suicide this evening in his cell. I 
thought you would like me to be the first 
to tell you, Carrie — ^we have all been 
friends together, in days gone by. . . 

She lock it nicely. He found her even 
willing to talk about Crawford, now that 
he was dead — to comment on his pleasing 
personality, his wasted life, and such 
things. She avoided certain phases of the 
subject: Mabel; little Nonnie; her own 
testimony at the trial. 

But when he remarked, airily: "You 
and I are the ones who have always ^>eca- 
lated dDOut the other world— hut old 
Lem, who never speculated in his life, i 
imagine, is the first to know ...” She 
shivered, and darted a fleering, half- 
ashamed glance toward the doorway^ 
where silken hangings framed the black- 
ness of the big hall. He tried to command 
his features while she rang for the maid, 
and directed the hall light to be lit. 
Usually, she preferred the room she was 
in to be the litde oasis of li^t in a dark- 
ened house. 

Maddern was too good a psychologist 
to spoil his work by lingering. He teft, 
promising to make his usual professional 
call In the morning. She followed him 
girlishly to the big front door, which was 
her tPegular tediniqae For taking leave of 
Mm, and he answaed Itor wave as he tttn 


A MIDNIGHT CONFESSION 


215 


down the stone steps; but when the door 
dosed behind her, and he was walking 
across the soft grass of the square, he said 
to himself, with a grim tightening of the 
lips: 

"She did it!” 

H e was rather late in cleaning up the 
work for the day. It was after 
eleven when he found himself a book, 
and settled down to be comfortable in his 
library until Carrie should telephone — if 
she did telephone. He thought she would, 
for he had paved the way rather nicely for 
Crawford’s little theatricals. She would 
certainly need a doctor after they were 
over. He wondered how the warden 
would pass Lem through the gate without 
arousing the suspicion of the guard. 
Doubtless they would go out together, and 
Lem would be disguised in some way. 
Suppose Crawford should meet one of the 
Trelevant servants? The doctor specu- 
lated on that possibility, too, but finally 
dismissed it with a shrug. Old Lem would 
be equal to it. As he had said, himself, 
there weren’t many experiences he hadn’t 
gone through. Probably he would fright- 
en the servant into hysterics. Suppose, 
too, that Carrie should not send for her 
doctor? But she would. Crawford had 
it in mind, no doubt, to direct her to do 
so, in order that her confession should be 
properly witnessed. 

Maddern yawned, threw down his 
book, and listened to the deep voice of his 
library clock chiming midnight. It was 
time for the "apparition” to leave the 
penitentiary. He wondered what sort of 
ghost Crawford would make. Possibly 
Carrie would favor him with a few de- 
tails, but he fancied not. He could get 
them later, from Lem. 

He picked up the book again. Craw- 
ford would require at least fifteen minutes 
to make the trip, and maybe another ten 
for the performance. At about half -past 


twelve, he could expect a telephone call. 

But at five minutes after twelve the bell 
rang. He snatched up the receiver. Here 
was a complication! Who else was calling 
him? But it was Carrie Trelevant. 

She was incoherent. Correct enuncia- 
tion, studied modulation, her fine con- 
tralto nuances, all were flung to the 
winds. Yet she made herself clear. She 
wanted Maddern. 

'This time, he drove over, so as to have 
his car ready for ase if need be. 'The house 
blazed with light. She met him at the 
front door, took hij hand, and dragged 
him into her drawing-room. She had 
never done that before, even in her most 
girlish moments. 

"Read this,” she said abruptly, and 
collapsed upon the davenport. 

'The paper she flung him was in her 
writing, but not in the even, precise hand 
she usually wrote. This writing was 
barely legible. The letters tumbled over 
one another, with vertical strokes which 
trembled in their short descent, wobbling, 
infirm capitals, "t’s” without a cross. Yet 
it was her hand. It contained a confes- 
sion, in detail, of Mabel Crawford’s 
murder. 

She must have been watching him, 
from the heap into which she had crum- 
pled on the davenport. For, as he finished 
and looked up, she came to him, without 
a word, took the paper from his hand, and 
signed it. 

"Sign as a witness,” she directed, hand- 
ing him the pen; then, as he did so: "Now 
take it . . .” She hesitated. For a moment 
he looked into her eyes. He never forgot 
them, afterward. '"Take it to the prose- 
cuting attorney.” 

She was literally pushing him from the 
room, when she paused and spoke. Her 
voice was calm, but there was no timbre to 
it. It was the skeleton of a voice. 

"You have often speculated. Doctor 


216 


cWEJRD TALES 


Maddern, as to whether the dead return,” 
she said. "They do!” 

That was all. He was tempted at that 
moment to tell her the truth, but he 
yielded instead to her wordless urge, and 
left the room. Looking back from the 
brilliantly lighted hallway, he saw her 
there. She stood holding to the library 
table. Her hair was unkempt. A streak 
of gray he had never seen stuck out 
prominently. Her cheeks were dead white. 
Yet, as she caught him joking at her, she 
tried to smile. It was the wreck of her 
technique. 

T hroughout the short drive to the 
warden’s office, he felt ignoble, like 
a man who has struck a woman. Reason 
did not enter into the feeling. He should 
have been elated, he told himself, to have 
helped save an innocent man, and that 
man his friend, from the gallows. But he 
was not elated. He remembered Carrie 
Trelevant's eyes. 

Once the paper had been delivered to 
old Sterling, the matter would be out of 
his hands. Sterling would turn it over to 
the prosecuting attorney. Then would fol- 
low the trial — that taste of hell again — 
but this trial would be brief. He won- 
dered, however, whether there would be a 
trial. Possibly he had already seen the last 
Carrie Trelevant. 

Old Sterling was sprawled in the 
swivel chair at his desk. The pouches of 
his rosy cheeks hung loosely. He seemed 
tired. He glanced up as Maddern stepped 
into the office, and pointed to an arm- 
chair. 

"Hadn’t any trouble getting in, I sup- 
pose? I left word at the gate. Thought 
maybe you were on your way here, when 
I cDuldn’t get pu at the house, so I 
waited.” 

Maddern unfolded ttie confession and 
silently handed it to the warden. 

The old man read it. It fluttered from 


his hand, as he looked up. His jaw 
sagged, and there was sweat on his fore- 
head. 

"Where did you get this?” he de- 
manded. 

"You saw the signature,” the doctor 
retorted, dryly. "Crawford’s trick worked 
— that’s all. I feel like a cad, and I 
rather think he will, too. My God, Ster- 
ling!” He grinned, ruefully. "She re- 
minded me how we used to speculate as 
to whether the dead return — and assured 
me that they do!” 

The warden had risen shakily to his 
feet. He seemed bewildered. 

"She said they return?” he repeated. 
"What did she mean by that?” 

"Why” — Doctor Maddern felt a trifle 
impatient with the old man — "you know 
the arrangement. Sterling. I had the stage 
all set. She thought Crawford dead. 
Naturally, then, when he called on her, 
she took him for a ghost. You can’t blame 
her, when you consider that she believes 
in ghosts, anyway. She ” 

"Wait a moment.” The warden was 
breathing heavily. His face had lost its 
usual color. "You say Crawford called on 
her?" 

'The doctor glared. 

"You know he called. Sterling. The 
thing was all arranged among us. Are 
you growing absent-minded?” 

But the old man ignored his tone, and 
continued, doggedly: "What time did he 
call?” 

"Well — she telephoned me at five min- 
utes after twelve, and everything was 
over. That’s something I don’t under- 
stand, either. You were to let him out at 
midnight. He couldn’t possibly have got 
over there in five minutes. You must have 
slipped on the time.” 

'The warden sat down, heavily. His big 
cheeks sagged more than ever, but his 
eyes looked across brightly at the doctor. 


A MIDNIGHT CONFESSION 


217 , 


with a peculiar shade of horror in their 
depths. 

"You visited him again this morning, 
doctor,” he said, slowly. "Did you, by 
any chance, leave a bunch of keys in his 
cell.?” 

"They were his k^s. One of them 
fitted Carrie Trelevant’s grade door. That 
was why I came — to bring that key.” 

"But you left the whole bunch?” 

Doctor Maddern nodded. 

"Let me ask you something.” Sterling 
seemed to be following a definite line of 
reasoning. "Did Crawford strike you as 
being convinced of Carrie Trelevant’s 
guilt?” 

"Well— yes.” 

"Was he sure he could make her con- 
fess?” 

'The doctor hesitated a moment, to pick 
his words. 

"Perhaps not sure, but confident.” 

The warden nodded. "Suppose a sure 
means of escape had presented itself to 
him — -a means which would be absolutely 


certain, yet which would not greatly com- 
promise either you or me. Would he have 
taken it?” 

"I should have taken it, in his place,” 
MaHdern returned. 

"Doctor Maddern.” The old man’s 
voice had sunk to a whisper. His bright 
eyes were fastened on the doctor’s face. 
"There was a little pen-knife on the ring 
among the bunch of keys you left this 
morning. You remember it?” 

The doctor nodded, with a start. 

"The understanding was that I should 
release him at midnight. I went up to his 
cell. It was just midnight — I didn’t slip 
on the time. But he was gone.” 

"You mean he had broken out?” the 
doctor demanded, almost shouting in his 
astonishment; but the warden shook his 
head. 

"He had escaped by the one sure way. 
The little knife showed him how. He 
used it just back of the left ear, doctor. 
When I went up at midnight, he was 
dead.” 



rkham 


By ROBERT E. HOWARD 


Drowsy and dull with age the houses blink 
On aimless streets the rat-gnawed years forget — 
But what inhiunan figures leer and slink 
Down the old allejrs when the naoon has set? 


Angel 

By SEABURY QUINN 

A tale of seemingly inexplicable murders, a terrible visitant that spreads weird 
death, and a daring exploit of Jules de Grandin 



lENS, my friend,” Jules de Gran- 
din selected an Hoyo de Monterey 
from the humidor and set it alight 
with gusto, "say what you will, there is 
no combination more satisfying to the 
soul and body than that of the processes 
of digestion and slow poisoning by nico- 
tine. No.” He regarded the gleaming 
tip of his diminutive patent-leather eve- 
ning pump with marked satisfaction, and 
wafted a smoke-wreath slowly toward the 
ceiling. "To make our happiness com- 
plete,” he added, "needs only the pres- 
ence of ” 

"Detective Sergeant Costello, if ye 
please, sor,” interrupted Nora McGinnis, 
my household factotum, appearing at the 
drawing-room door with the unexpected 
suddenness of a specter taking shape from 
nothingness. 

"Eh, do you say so, petite?” the little 
Frenchman answered with a chuckle. 
"Bid him enter, by all means.” 

The big, red-hfeaded plain-clothes man 
advanced in Nora’s wake, a smile of real 
affection for the Frenchman on his face. 
Behind him marched an equally big man, 
ruddy-faced, white-haired, with that look 
of handsome distinction so many com- 
monplace Irishmen acquire at middle life. 

"Shake hands wid me friend. Chief 
O’Toole, o’ th’ Norfolk Downs force, 
gentlemen,” Costello bade with a nod 
toward his companion. "Timmie, this is 
Doctor de Grandin I’ve been tellin’ ye 
about, an’ Doctor Trowbridge.” 

"Pleased to meet yez, gentlemen,” 
Chief O’Toole acknowledged with a smile 
218 


and bone-crushing grip for each of us. 
"Jerry’s been tellin’ me ye might be will- 
in’ to give me a lift wid th’ damndest — 
beg pardon — th’ most puzzlin’ case I’ve 
ever had th’ evil luck to run agin.” 

De Grandin transferred his cigar to his 
left hand and tweaked the needle points 
of his tightly waxed blond mustache with 
his right. "If the good Sergeant Costello 
vouches for the case, mon chef, I make no 
doubt that it will intrigue me,” he 
answered. "Tell us of it, if you please.” 

"Well, sor,” Chief O’Toole lowered 
himself ponderously into a chair and re- 
garded the gray imiform cap he had re- 
moved with a stare which seemed to in- 
dicate he sought inspiration from its silk- 
lined depths, "well, sor, it’s this way. 
Over to Norfolk Downs we’ve been hav- 
in’ one hell o’ — one most distressful time 
o’ it, an’ none o’ us seems able to say 
what it’s all about.” He paused, twisting 
the cap between his large, white hands 
and examining its peaked vizor as though 
he’d never seen the thing before. 

"U’m?” de Grandin shot a quick glance 
at the visitor. "This is of interest, but 
not instructive. If you will amplify your 
statement ” 

"Beg pardon, sor, maybe I could help,” 
Costello interrupted. "Timmie — Chief 
O’Toole — an’ me’s been friends for 
twenty year an’ more. We wuz harness 
bulls together an’ got our detectives’ 
badges at th’ same time. When they 
started that swell real estate development 
over to Norfolk Downs, they put in a 
paid police force, an’ offered th’ job o’ 



THE DARK ANGEL 


21S> 



chief to Timtnie. He’s a good officer, sor, 
as none knows better than I, but keepin’ 
burglars in their place an’ nabbin’ spi- 
ers is more in his line than handlin’ this 
sort o’ trouble. There’s been some mighty 
queer doin’s at Norfolk Downs o’ late, 
an’ th’ whole community’s terrified. Not 
only that; they’re sayin’ Timmie’s not 
competent, an’ one more killin’ like 
dicy’vehad an’ he’ll be warmin’ some em- 


ployment office bench. He wuz over to 
me house this evenin’ to talk things over, 
an’ th’ minute I heard about it I says to 
meself, 'Here’s a case fer Doctor de Gran- 
din, or I’m a Dutchman.’ So here we are, 
sor.” 

O’Toole took up the explanation. "If 
ye’re askin’ me about it. I’ll say di’ Divil’s 
in it, sor,” he told de Grandin solemnly. 

'"The Devil.^” de Grandin eyed him 



220 


WEIRD TALES 


narrowly. "You mean that Satan has a 
hand in it, or do you use an idiom?” 

"No, sor, I mean exactly what I said,” 
the chief replied. " ’Twas a matter o’ 
three months or so ago — th’ night afther 
Qiristmas — when Mike Scarsci got his’n. 
Everybody in th’ Downs knew Mike, and 
no one knew much good o’ him. Some 
said he wuz a bootlegger, and some a run- 
ner fer a joint down Windsor way — th’ 
kind o’ place where ye git what ye pay fer 
an’ no questions asked, an’ if ye feel th’ 
want o’ womanly sympathy, there’s a 
young an’ pretty hostess to give ye what 
ye crave. However that might be, sor, we 
used to see Mike sliding round th’ place, 
whispering to th’ respectable folks who 
might not be so good when they thought 
no one wuz lookin’, an’ I’d ’a’ run him 
out o’ town, only I didn’t dast oflfend his 
customers. So I wuz content to keep a 
eye on him, just until he pulled oflf sumpin 
I could rightly pinch him fer. 

"Well, that night we heard him drive 
up th’ Edgemere Road in that big, ex- 
pensive roadster o’ his, an’ seen him turn 
th’ corner like he wuz headed fer one o’ 
th’ big houses on th’ hill. I didn’t see it 
meself, sor, but one o’ me men, name o’ 
Gibbons, wuz near by when it happened. 
He seen th’ car go round th’ bend an’ dis- 
appear behind some rhododendron 
bushes, an’ all of a sudden he heard some- 
body give a yell as if th’ Divil’s self wuz 
on ’im, an’ then two shots come close 
together. Next moment wuz a flash o’ 
fire so bright it blinded him, an’ — that 
wuz all. 

"But when he came a-runnin’ to th’ 
place where Scarsci’s car wuz stalled, he 
found Mike wid his gun still in his hand, 
an’ th’ front mashed out o’ his head — 
leastwise, most of it wuz gone, but 
enough remained to show th’ footprint 
of a monster goat stamped on ’im, sor. 


Furthermore, there wuz th’ smell o’ brim- 
stone in th’ air.” 

D e grandin raised the narrow black 
brows which showed such marke-d 
contrast to his wheat-blond hair. "Eh 
bien, mon chef,” he murmured, '"rhis 
devil of yours would seem to be a most 
discriminating demon; at least in Mon- 
sieur Scarsci’s case. Am I to understand 
that you give credence to the story?” 

A tinge of red showed in O’Toole’s 
broad face. "Ye are, sor,” he returned. 
"I wuz brought up amongst goats, sor; I’d 
know their tracks when I seen ’em, even 
if me eyes were tight shut; an’ I recog- 
nized th’ print on Scarsci’s forehead. 
Besides ” he paused a moment, swal- 

lowing imeasily, and a dogged, stubborn 
look came in his eyes. "Besides, I seen 
th’ thing meself, sor.” O’Toole breathed 
quickly, pantingly, as one who shifts a 
burden from his chest. 

"We all thought it mighty queer how 
Mike got kilt,” he went on, "but th’ 
coroner said he must ’a’ run into a tree 
or sumpin — though th’ saints knows 
there wuz no tree there — so we had to 
let it pass. But widin another week, sor. 
Old Man Withers wuz found layin’ dead 
furninst th’ gate o’ his house, an’ he died 
til’ same way Mike did — wid th’ top 
mashed out o’ his head an’ th’ mark o’ th’ 
beast on his brow. 'There warn’t no pos- 
sibility o’ his runnin’ into no tree — not 
even a tree as wuzn’t there, sor — for there 
he wuz, spread-eagled on th’ sidewalk wid 
his mouth wide open, an’ his eyes a-starin’ 
at th’ sky, an’ there wuz blood an’ brains 
oozin’ from a hole in his head big enough 
to put yer fist into. 

"There wuz plenty said th’ old man 
wuz a bad lot; it’s certain he never let a 
nickel get away once he got his hands on 
it, an’ many a one as borrowed money 
from him lived to regret it; but that’s 


THE DARK ANGEL 


221 ] 


not here nor there. Th’ fact is he wuz 
dead, an’ th’ jury had to bring it in as 
homicide, though, o’ course, they couldn’t 
blame no one specifically. 

"Then, last o’ all, wuz Mr. Roscoe. A 
harmless, inoffensive sort o’ cuss he wuz, 
sor; quiet-spoken an’ gentleman-like as 
any that ye’d meet. He had some money 
an’ didn’t need to work, but he wuz a sort 
o’ nut on atheism, an’ ran some kind o’ 
paper pokin’ fun at th’ churches fer his 
own amusement. 

" ’Twas about midnight, ten days ago, 
when th’ thing got him. I’d finished up 
me work at th’ Borough Hall, an’ wuz 
headin’ fer home when I passed th’ bus 
station. Mr. Roscoe gits off’n th’ last bus 
from Bloomfield, an’ we walks along 
together. As we wuz walkin’ past St. 
Michael’s church we seen th’ light which 
burns before th’ altar, an’, ’O’Toole,’ 
says Mr. Roscoe, ' ’tis a shame that they 
should waste th’ price o’ oil to keep that 
thing a-goin’ when there’s so much mis- 
ery an’ sufferin’ in th’ world. If I could 
have me way,’ says he, 'I’d raise th’ divil 
wid ’ 

"An’ then it wuz upon us, sor. Taller 
than me by a good foot, it wuz, an’ all 
covered wid scales, like a serpent. Two 
horns wuz growin’ from its head, an’ its 
eyes wuz flashin’ fire. I couldn’t rightly 
say it had a tail, fer there wuz small 
chance to look at it; but may I never stir 
from this here chair if it didn’t have a 
pair o’ big, black wings — an’ it flew right 
at us. 

"Mr. Roscoe give a funny sort o’ cry 
an’ put his cane up to defend hisself. I 
wuz yankin’ at me gun, but me fingers 
wuz all stiff wid cold, an’ th’ holster 
wouldn’t seem to come unsnapped. 

"Th’ next I knew, somethin’ give a 
awful, screamin’ laugh, an’ then there 
wuz a flash o’ fire right in me face, an’ 
I’m a-coughin’ an’ a-chokin’ wid th’ 


fumes o’ sulfur in me loose, an’ when I 
gits so I can see again, there’s no one 
there a-tall but Mr. Roscoe, an’ he’s 
stretched out beside me on th’ sidewalk 
wid his skull mashed in an’ th’ Divil’s 
mark upon his brow. Dead he were, sor; 
dead as yesterday’s newspaper. 

"I’d made shift to snatch me gun out 
whilst th’ fire wuz still blindin’ me, an’ 
had fired at where I thought th’ thing 
must be, but all I ever found to show 

that I’d hit sumpin wuz this thing ’’ 

From his blouse pocket he withdrew an 
envelope, and from it took a small, dark 
object. 

De Grandin took it from him, exam* 
ined it a moment, then passed it on to me. 
It was a portion of a quill, clipped across 
the shaft some three or four inches from 
the tip, the barbs a brilliant black which 
shone with iridescent luster in the lamp- 
light. Somewhat heavier than any feather 
I had ever felt, it was, and harder, too, 
for when I ran my thumb across its edge 
it rasped my skin almost like the teeth of 
a fine saw. Indeed, the thing was more 
like the scale from some gigantic reptile, 
cut in foliations to simulate a quill, than 
any feather I had ever seen. 

"I never saw a quill like this, before,’* 
I told O’Toole, and: 

"Here’s hopin’ that ye never do again, 
sor,’’ he responded earnestly, "fer as 
sure as ye’re a-settin’ on that chair, that 
there’s a feather from a Divil’s Angel’s 
wing!” 

“"D eggin’ yer pardon, sor,” Nora Mc- 
•t# Ginnis once more appeared abrupt- 
ly at the door, "there’s a young man wid 
a special delivery letter fer Doctor de 
Grandin. Will ye be afther lookin’ at it 
now, sor, or will it wait.^” 

"Bring it in at once, if you will be so 
good,” the Frenchman answered. "All 
special letters merit quick attention.” 


222 


.WEIRD TALES 


Bowing mute apologf to us, he slit 
the envelope and glanced quidcly through 
dte brief typewritten missive. "Parbleu, 
’tis very strange!” he exclaimed as he fin- 
ished reading. "You come to me regard- 
ing these so strange events, tnon chef, 
and on your heels comes this. Attend me, 
if you please: 

My dear Doctor de Grandifi: 

I have heard of your ability to arrive at explana- 
tions of cases which apparently possess a super- 
natural aspect, and am writing you to ask if you 
will take the Borough of Norfolk Downs as client 
in a case which will undoubtedly command the 
limit of your talents. 

Our police force admit their helplessness, special 
investigators hired from the best detective agencies 
have failed to give us any satisfaaion. Our peo- 
ple are terrified and the entire Community lives in 
a feeling of constant insecurity. 

In view of this I am authorized to offer you a 
retainer of one thousand dollars immediately upon 
your acceptance of the case, and an additional fee 
of fifty dollars a day, plus reasonable expenses, 
provided you arrive at a solution of the mystery 
which is not only causing our citizens much 
anxiety but has already reached the newspapers in 
a garbled form and is causing much unfavorable 
publicity for Norfolk Downs as a residential center. 

Your promptness in replying will be appreci- 
ated by 

Yours faithfully, 

Rolland Wilcox, 

Mayor of Norfolk Downs. 

“An’ will ye take th’ case, sor?” 
O'Toole asked eagerly. 

"Sure, Doctor de Grandin, sor, ye’ll be 
doin’ me a favor, an’ Timmie, too, if 
ye’ll say yes,” Costello added. 

“Assuredly,” de Grandin answered 
with a vigorous nod. “Tomorrow after- 
noon the good Doctor Trowbridge and I 
shall wait upon Monsieur le Maire and 
say to him: 'Voila, Monsieur, here we 
are. Where is the thousand dollars, and 
where the mystery that you would have 
us solve? But yes; certainly.’ ” 

2 

T he wealthy realtors and expensive 
architects who mapped out Norfolk 
Downs had done their work artistically. 
Houses of approved English architecture. 


Elizabetlian, Tudor, Jacobean, with here 
and there an example of the Georgian or 
Regency periods, set well back in taste- 
fully planted grounds along wide, tree- 
bordered rOads which trailed gracefully 
in curves and avoided every hint of the 
perpendicularity of city streets. Com- 
mercial buildings were restricted to such 
few shops as were essential to the con- 
venience of the community — a grocery, 
drug store, delicatessen and motor service 
station — and these were confined to a df- 
cumscribed zone and eflfectually disguised 
as private dwellings, their show windows 
fashioned as oriels, neatly sodded yards, 
set with flower beds and planted with 
evergreens, before them. 

Mayor Wilcox occupied a villa in Edge- 
mere Road, a great, rambling house of 
the half-timbered English style with 
Romantic chimneys, stuccoed walls and 
many low, broad windows. A smug, well- 
kept formal garden, fenced in by neatly 
trimmed hedges of box and privet, was in 
front; at the side was a pergola and rose 
garden where marble statues, fountains 
and a lily-pond stood in incongruous con- 
trast to tfie Elizabethan house and Vic- 
torian front-garden. 

"I understand you’ve had some of the 
details of the case already from O’Toole, 
Doctor de Grandin,” Mayor Wilcox said 
when we had been escorted to his study 
at the rear of the villa’s wide central hafl. 

'The Frenchman inclined his head. 
“Quite so,” he answered. ”1 was most 
solemnly assured you were suffering from 
diabolic visitation. Monsieur le Maire." 

Wilcox laughed shortly, mirthlessly. 
"I’m not so sure he’s wrong,” he 
answered. 

"Eh, yOu have some reason to be- 
lieve ” de Grandin started, then broke 

off questioningly. 

The mayor looked from one of us to 
the other with a Sort Of shamefaced ex- 


THE DARK ANGEL 


223 


pression, "It’s really very odd,” he re- 
turned at length. "Folloilott rather in- 
clines to the diabolical theory, too, but 
he’s so mediasval-minded, anyway, 
that ” 

"And this Monsieur Fol — ^this Mon- 
sieur with the funny name, who is he, if 
you please.^” 

"Our rector — the priest in charge of St. 
Michael and All Angels’; queer sort of 
chap; modern and all that, you know, but 
believes in all sorts of supernatural non- 
sense, and ” 

"One little moment, if you please,” de 
Grandin interrupted. "Let us hear the 
reasons for the good man’s assumptions, 
if you will. Me, I know the by-ways of 
ghostland as I know my own pocket, and 
I solemnly assure you there is no such 
thing as the supernatural. 'There is un- 
doubtedly the superphysical; there is also 
that class of natural phenomena which we 
do not understand; but the supernatural? 
Non, it is not so.” 

Mayor Wilcox, who was bald to the 
ears and affected a pointed beard and 
curling mustache which gave him a 
Shakespearian appearance, glanced sharp- 
ly at the Frenchman, as though in doubt 
of his sincerity, then, as he met the ear- 
nest gaze of the small, blue eyes, re- 
sponded with a shrug; 

"It was the Michael which started him. 
Our church, you know, is largely con- 
structed from bits of ruined abbeys 
brought from England. The font is Six- 
teenth Century, the altar even earlier, and 
some of the carvings date back to pre- 
Tudor times. 'The name-saint, the Arch- 
angel Michael, is represented by a par- 
ticularly fine bit of work showing the 
Champion of Heaven overcoming the 
Fiend and binding him in chains. It was 
in first-rate shape despite its age when we 
received it, and every precaution was 
taken when we set it over the church 


porch. But just before the first of these 
mysterious killings took place the stone 
fetter which bound the Devil became 
broken in some way. Folloilott was the 
first to notice it, and directed my attention 
to the missing links. He seemed in a 
dreadful state of funk when he to4d us 
the bits of missing stone were nowhere 
to be found. 

" 'Well, we’ll have a stone-cutter over 
and have new ones carved,’ I told him, 
but it seemed that wouldn’t do at all. 
Unless the identical links which were 
missing could be found and reset right 
away, something terrible would descend 
on the community, he assured me. I’d 
have laughed at him, but he was so 
earnest about it any one could see he was 
sincere. 

" 'I tell you, Wilcox,’ he said, 'those 
links are symbolical. The Archfiend is 
unchained upon the earth, and dreadful 
things will come to us unless we can con- 
fine him in those sacred fetters right 
away!’ You have to know Folloilott to 
understand the impressive way he said 
it. Why, I almost believed it, myself, he 
was so serious about it all. 

"Well, the upshot of it all was we 
searched the churchyard and all the 
ground around, but couldn’t find a sin- 
gle trace of those stone links. Next night 
the boot — the Scarsci man was killed in 
the way O’Toole told you, and since that 
time we’ve had two other inexplicable 
murders. 

"No one can offer any explanation, and 
the detectives we hired were as much at 
sea as any of us. What do you think of 
it, sir?” 

''U’m,” de Grandin took his narrow 
chin between a thoughtful thumb and 
finger and pinched it till the dimple in its 
tip deepened to a cleft. "I think we 
should do well to see this statue of St. 
Michael and also the so estimable clergy- 


224 


WEIRD TALES 


man with the unpronounceable name. 
Can this be done at once?” 

Wilcox consulted his watch. "Yes,” he 
answered. "Folloilott says evensong about 
this time every day, rain, shine or measles. 
We’ll be in time to see him if we step 
over to the church right away.’' 

W INTER was dying hard. The late 
afternoon was bitter for so late in 
March. A leaden sky, piled high with 
asphalt-colored clouds, held a menace of 
snow, and along the walks curled yellow 
leaves from the wayside trees scuttered, 
and paused and scuttered on again as 
thou^ they fled in hobbled fear from the 
wind that came hallooing from the north. 

Chimes were playing softly in the 
square bell-tower of the church as we ap- 
proached, their vibrant notes scarce audi- 
ble against the wind’s wild shouting: 

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide; 

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. . . . 

A look of almost ineffable sadness 
swept across de Grandin’s features, swift 
as the passing of a drought. "Have her 
ever in ’Ihy gracious keeping. Lord!” he 
murmured, and signed the cross before 
his face, so quickly one might have 
drought him stroking his mustache. 

"’There’s Folloilott, now!” Wilcox ex- 
claimed. "I say, Mr. Folloilott, here ” 

A tall young man in shovel hat and 
Inverness coat strode quiddy across the 
patch of lawn separating the church from 
the brick-and-sandstone rectory. If he 
heard the mayor’s greeting above the wind 
he gave no sign as he thrust the nail- 
studded door of the vestry aside and 
entered the sacred edifice. 

"Humph, he’s a sacerdotal fool!” our 
companion exclaimed half angrily. "You 
might as well try to get a number on a 
broken telephone as attract his attention 
vdien he’s about his parish duties.” 
’TTm?” de Grandin murmured. '"The 


one-tracked mind, as you call him in 
American, hiin^ And this St. Michael of 
whom you spoke, where is he, if you 
please?” 

"There,” Wilcox answered, pointing 
his blackthorn stick to a sculptured group 
set in the wall above the pentice. 

The group, cut in high relief upon a 
plinth of stone, represented the Arch- 
angel, accoutered in cuirass and greaves, 
erect above the fallen demon, one foot 
upon his adversary’s throat, his lance 
poised for a thrust in his fight hand, the 
left holding a chain which was made fast 
to manacles latched around the fiend’s 
wrists. ’Ihe whole thing, rather crudely 
carved, had an appearance of immense 
age, and even from our point of view, 
some forty feet away, we could see dial 
several links of the chain, as well as the 
bracelets binding the Devil’s hands, had 
weathered and chipped away. 

"And Monsteuf t’Abbi insists this has 
connection with these so strange deaths?” 
the Frenchman asked musingly. 

"He affects to believe so; yes,” Wilcmc 
answered, impatience in his voice. 

"Eh bten, in former limes men have 
believed in stranger ’ ings,” de Grandift 
returned. "Come, kt us go in; I would 
observe him more dosely, if you please.” 

Like too many churches, St. Michael 
and All Angels’ did not boast impressive 
congregations at ordinary serdees. A 
verger in a black-serge robe, three or four 
elderly and patently virgin ladies in ex- 
pensive but frumpish costumes and a 
young and slender girl almost nun-like in 
her subdued gray coat and hat were the 
sole attendants besides ourselves. 

*1116 organ prelude finished as we found 
seats in a forward pew, and the Reverend 
Mr. Folloilott entered from die vestry, 
genuflected to the altar and began to in- 
tone the service. Rather to my surprize, 
he chose the long, or Hicene Creed, in 

W. T.— 5 


THE DARK ANGEL 


223 


preference to the shorter one usually re- 
cited at the evening service, and at the 
words, "and was incarnate by the Holy 
Ghost," his genuflection was so profound 
that it was almost a prostration. 

Immediately following the collect for 
peace he descended from the diancel to 
the body of the church and began the 
oflice of general supplication. 

It was chilly to the point of frostiness 
in the church, but perspiration streaked 
the cleric’s face as in a voice vibrant with 
intense emotion he cantillated the en- 
treaty: 

O holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three per- 
sons and one God ; have mercy upon us miserable 
sinners. . . . 

From our seats in the transept we were 
almost abreast of the priest as he knelt 
at the litany desk, and I caught de Gran- 
din studying him covertly while the inter- 
minable oflice was recited. Mr. Folloilott’s 
face was cameo-sharp in profile, pale, but 
not with poor health; lean rather than 
thin, with a high, narrow brow, deep-set, 
almost piercingly clear eyes of gray, high- 
bridged, prominent nose and long, point- 
ed chin. The mouth was large, but thin- 
lipped, and the hair which grew well for- 
ward at the temples intensely black. A 
rather strong, intelligent face, I thought, 
but one marked by asceticism, the face of 
one who might be either unflinching 
martyr or relentless inquisitor, as occasion 
might direct. 

"No use trying to see him now," Wil- 
cox told us when benediction was pro- 
nounced and the congregation rose from 
their knees after a respectful interval. 
"He'll be about his private devotions for 
the next half-hour, and — ah, by George, 
I have it! I’m having another friend for 
dinner tonight: what d’ye say we have 
Folloilott and Janet in as well.^ You’ll 
have all the chance you want to talk with 
him." 

"Excellent," de Grandin acquiesced, 
W.T.— 6 


"And who is Janet, may one ask? Ma- 
dame Fol — the reverend gentleman's 
wife?” 

"Lord, no!” the mayor responded, 
"Folloilott’s a dedicated celibate. Janet’s 
his ward.” 

"Ah?” the Frenchman answered with a 
barely perceptible rising inflection. I 
drove my elbow in his ribs lest he say 
more. The frank expressions of de Gran- 
din’s thoughts were not always acceptable 
to American ears, as I well knew from 
certain contretemps in which he had in- 
volved me in the past! 

3 

E ight of us gathered at the Jacobean 
oak table in Mr. Wilcox’s dining- 
room that evening: the mayor and his 
wife, a slender, dark young man of 
scholarly appearance with refined, Semitic 
features, George, Wilcox’s son, recently 
admitted to the bar and his father’s part- 
ner in practise, the Reverend Basil Follo- 
ilott and his ward, Janet Payne, de Gran- 
din and 1. The meal was good, thou^ 
simple: clear soup, fried sole, a saddle of 
Canada hare, sal^ and an ice; white wine 
with the fish, claret with the roast. 

De Grandin studied each of the guests 
with his quick, stock-taking glance, but 
Janet excited my curiosity most of all. 
She was slight and unmistakably attrac- 
tive, but despite her smooth and fresh- 
colored complexion she somehow con- 
veyed an impression of colorlessness. Her 
long, fair hair was simply arranged in a 
figure 8 knot at the nape of her neck; her 
large, blue, heavy-lidded eyes seemed to 
convey nothing but disinterested weari- 
ness. Her lips were a thought too full 
for beauty, but she had a sweet, rather 
pathetic smile, and she smiled often but 
talked rarely. "H’m,” I wondered pro- 
fessionally, "is she anemic, or recovering 
from an illness?” 


226 


WEIRD TALES 


The sound of Wilcox’s voice broke 
through my revery: "I saw Withers’ 
executors today, Mr. Silverstein,” he told 
the young Jewish gentleman, "and I don’t 
think there’s much doubt that they’ll re- 
new the loan." 

To us he added in explanation, "Mr. 
Silverstein is Rabbi of the Congregation 
Beth Israel. Withers held a mortgage on 
their temple and was pressing them for 
payment in full when he was — when he 
died. The executors seem nwre leniently 
inclined.” 

A sharp kick on my shin made me 
wince with pain, but before I could cry 
out, de Grandin’s hand was pressing mine 
and his eyes beckoning my attention to 
the clergyman across the table. 'The rev- 
erend gentleman’s face had gone an 
almost sickly gray, and an expression of 
something like consternation was on his 
features. 

I was about to ask if I could be of serv- 
ice when our hostess rose, and with her 
Janet went into the drawing-room. Evi- 
dently the custom of leaving the gentle- 
men at table with their cigars still ob- 
tained in Wilcox’s house. For just an in- 
stant as she passed the girl’s glance rested 
on young Wilcox, and in it was tender- 
ness and such yearning that I almost cried 
aloud, for it was like the look of a pau- 
per’s child before a toyshop window at 
Christmas time. 

De Grandin noted the look, too.''Tiens, 
Monsieur I’ Abbe," he said genially as he 
lighted his cigar, "unless I greatly miss 
my guess, you shall soon celebrate a most 
joyous ceremony.” 

’The clergyman looked pu22led. "How 
do you mean?” he asked. 

"Why, when Mademoiselle Jeannette 
marries with Monsieur Georges, to be 
sure, you will most certainly perform the 


'The other cut him ofiF. "Janet has no 
place for earthly love in her life,” he 
answered. "Hers is one of those devoted 
souls which long for sweet commimion 
with the Heavenly Bridegroom. As soon 
as she has come of age she will become 
a postulate in the order of the Resurrec- 
tion. All plans are made; it is her life’s 
vocation. She has been trained to look 
for nothing else since she was a little 
girl.” 

De Grandin shot a doubtful, question- 
ing glance at me, and I nodded confirma- 
tion. St. Chrystosom’s, where I had 
served as vestryman for nearly thirty years, 
was "moderate,” being neither Method- 
istically "low” nor ritualistically "high,” 
but in a vague way I knew the ritualistic 
branch of the Episcopal Church supported 
monastic and conventual orders with dis- 
cipline and rules as strict as any sponsored 
by the Greek and Latin churches, espe- 
cially women’s orders, where the mem- 
bers took their vows for life and lived as 
closely cloistered as mediaeval nuns. 

An awkward pause ensued. De Gran- 
din tweaked the points of his mustache 
and seemed meditating a reply, and 
knowing him as I did, my teeth were on 
edge with apprehension, but Wilcox 
saved the situation. "I was telling Doctor 
de Grandin your theory of the strange 
deaths — how the breaking of the fetter in 
St. Michael’s hand might be responsible,” 
he told the clergyman. 

Young Rabbi Silverstein looked puz- 
zled. "Surely, you’re not serious, Mr. 
Folloilott?” he asked. "You can’t mean 
you believe there’s some connection 
between a graven image and these mur- 
ders. Why, it’s ” 

Folloilott rose, his face drawn and 
working with half-suppressed emotion. 
"To one of your religion, sir,” he an- 
swered cuttingly, "the statue of the Arch- 
angel Michael may be a 'graven image’ j 


cero 


THE DARK ANGEL 


227 


to */ it is a holy thing, endued with 
heavenly powers. As for these 'murders,' 
as you call them, I am convinced no earth- 
ly agency has anything to do with them; 
no human hand struck the blows which 
rid the world of those moral lepers. They 
are unquestionably the visitations of an 
outraged Heaven upon contemners of 
Divine authority. The call to repentance 
has gone forth, even as it did in the days 
of the Patriarch Noah. Heaven is out- 
raged at the iniquity of man, and the 
Dark Angel of Death is abroad; you may 
almost hear the beating of his dreadful 
sable wings. There is no one as when 
the first-born was slain of old, to sprinkle 
blood upon the lintels of ouc doors that 
he may spare us and pass on. Repent- 
ance is the only way to safety. No mortal 
man can stay his flight, no mortal dare 
impede him in his awful errand!” 

"Tiens, there you do make the great 
mistake. Monsieur," de Grandin answered 
with one of his quick, elfin grins. "I dare 
do so. The law forbids such killings, and 
be he angel or devil, he who has com- 
mitted them must answer to the law. 
Furthermore, which is of more immediate 
importance, he must answer to Jules de 
Grandin. Certainly; of course.” 

"You?" the tall cleric looked down at 
the little Frenchman incredulously. 

"Even as you say. Monsieur I’ Abbe” 

For a moment they faced each other 
across the table, Folloilott’s piercing gaze 
seeking to beat down de Grandin’s level 
stare, and failing as the wind may fail to 
move a firmly planted rock. At length; 

"You take grave risks lightly, sir,” the 
clergyman admonished. 

"It is a habit of long standing. Mon- 
sieur,” de Grandin answered in a toneless, 
level voice. His little, round blue eyes set 
in a fixed, unwinking state against the 
other’s burning gaze. 


T he clergyman excused himself a short 
while afterward, and we were Irft 
alone before the fire. 

"I think your rector needs a rest,” I 
told the mayor. "His nerves are all un- 
strung from overwork. I’d say. Once or 
twice I fancied he was on the verge of a 
breakdown this evening.” 

"He did look rather seedy,” Wilcox 
admitted. "Guess we’ll have to send him 
off to Switzerland again this summer. 
He’s a great mountain-climber, you know; 
quite a hunter, too. Some years ago he 
went exploring in the Andes and brought 
back some rare specimens. They say he’s 
one of the few men who ever succeeded 
in bringing down a condor in full flight.” 

De Grandin glanced up sharply. "A 
condor, did you say, Monsieur — one- of 
those great Andean vultures?” he de- 
manded. 

"Yes,” Wilcox answered. "He risked 
his life to do it; but he shot one down 
from an eminence of several thousand 
feet. Got two of ’em, in fact, but one 
was lost. The other’s stuffed and mount- 
ed in the museum at Harrisonville.” 

"A condor?” murmured Jules de Gran- 
din musingly. "He shot a condor, this 
one, and ” 

Furious knocking at the dcx)r, followed 
by the tread of heavy boots in the tiled 
passage cut him short. "Doctor de Gran- 
din, sor,” Chief O’Toole burst into the 
dining-room, amazement and something 
strangely lilce terror in his florid face, 
"there’s another one been kilt. We just 
got th’ word!” 

"Mille tonnerres — another? Beneath 
our very noses?” The Frenchman leaped 
from his seat as a bounced ball rises in 
the air, and fairly rushed toward the coat 
closet where his outdoor wraps were 
hung. "Come, Friend Trowbridge, rush, 
hasten; fly!” he bade me. To O’Toole: 


228 


WEIRD TALES 


"Lead on, mon chef, we follow close 
behind!” 

" ’Tis Misther Bostwick, this time, 
sor,” the chief confided as we walked 
along the frosty street. "Not five minutes 
ago I took a call at headquarters, an’, 'Is 
this th’ chief o’ police.^’ a lady asks, all 
scared and trembly-like. 

" 'It is,’ says I, 'an’ what can I be doin’ 
fer ye. Miss?’ 

" 'Come over to Misther Bostwick’s, if 
yez please,’ she tells me. 'Sumpin terrible 
has happened!’ 

"So over to Misther Bostwick’s house 
I goes, an’ she wam’t exaggeratin’ none, 
sor. I’ll say that fer her. 'Th’ place is a 
holy wreck, an’ pore Bostwick’s a-settin’ 
there in his livin’ -room wid th’ back 
mashed out o’ his head an’ th’ mark o’ 
th’ Divil on his brow.” 

DeGrandin took a few steps in thought- 
ful silence; then: "And what was Mon- 
sieur Bostwick’s besetting sin, mon chef?” 
he asked. 

"Eh?” 

"What was it this one did which 
might offend a straight-laced moralist?” 

O’Toole returned a short, hard laugh. 
"How’d ye guess it, sor?” he asked. 

"Name of an old and thoroughly de- 
caying cheese — I ajk you, not you me!” 
the Frenchman almost shouted. 

"Well, sor, Norfolk Downs ain’t like 
some places; we don’t go pokin’ too much 
into th’ private life o’ th’ citizens as pays 
our salaries, an’ ” 

”A bos the explanations and apologies! 
What was it this one did, I ask to know!” 

"Well, sor, if ye must know, they do 
say as how he wuz uncommon fond o’ th’ 
ladies. Time afther time I seen th’ pretty 
ladies shteppin’ out o’ their cars before 
his door, an’ late o’ nights th’ light wuz 
goin’ in his house. Yet he were a bache- 
lor, sor, an’ his bootlegger’s bill must ’a’ 
been tremenjous, judgin’ be th’ empty 


bottles that wuz carted from his place. 
I’ve heard tell as how some o’ his little 
playmates had husbands o’ their own, 
too, but as ’twas all done quiet an’ order- 
ly-like, I never interfered, an’ ” 

"No matter, one understands,” de 
Grandin cut him short. "Are we arrived?” 

4 

W E WERE. Ablaze with lights, the 
big, brick house in which Theodore 
Bostwick had lived his gay and not par- 
ticularly righteous life stood before us, a 
uniformed policeman at the door, another 
waiting in the hall. Crouched on a settle 
by the fire, shaking with sobs and plainly 
in an agony of fear, a very pretty little 
lady in a very pretty pajama ensemble 
raised a tear-stained face to us. 

"Oh, don’t — please don’t let them give 
my name to the papers!” she besought as 
de Grandin paused before her. 

"Softly, Mademoiselle,” he soothed, 
tactfully ignoring the platinum-and-di- 
amond band encircling the third finger 
of her left hand. "We do but seek the 
facts. Where were you when it hap- 
pened, if you please?” 

"I — I’d come downstairs to get some 
ice,” the little woman answered, dabbing 
at her eyes with a wisp of rose-colored 
cambric. "Ted — Mr. Bostwick, wanted 
some ice for the cocktails, and I said I’d 
come down and get it from the Frigidaire, 

and ” She paused and shivered as 

though a chill had laid its icy finger on 
her, despite the superheated room. 

"Yes, Mademoiselle, and ” de 

Grandin prompted softly. 

"I heard Ted call out once — I couldn’t 
understand him, and called back, 'What?’ 
and then there was a dreadful clatter in 
the big room upstairs, as if everything 
were being smashed, and I was fright- 
ened. 


THE DARK ANGEL 


229 


'T waited for a moment, then went 
upstairs, and — oh, it was dreadful!” 

"Precisement, one understands as 
much; but what was it you saw?” 

"You’ll see it for yourself, when you 
go up. Ted was sitting there — looking 
straight at me — and everything around 
him was all broken. I took one look at 
him and turned to run, but on the steps 
I must have fainted, for I fell, and when 
I came to I was lying at the bottom of 
the stairs, and ” 

"What did you do next?” he asked as 
she paused again. 

"I — I fainted.” 

"Morhleu, again?” 

"Yes, again!” something half stubborn, 
half hysterical was in her answer. "I was 
going to the telephone to call the ofl&cers 
when I chanced to glance up, and 

there ” Once more her voice trailed 

off to nothingness, and the color drained 
from her pink cheeks, leaving them ghast- 
ly-white beneath the rouge. 

The little Frenchman looked at her, 
compassion in his gaze. "What was it 
that you saw, ma pauvre?" he asked 
gently. 

"A — a face, sir. It looked at me 
through the window for just an instant, 
but I’ll not forget it if I live to be a hun- 
dred. 'There was nothing above it, noth- 
ing below it — it seemed to hang tliere, 
like the head of a decapitated man sus- 
pended in the air — and it glared at me. 
It was long — ^twice as big as any face I’ve 
ever seen — and a sort of awful grayish 
color — like the imderside of a toad! — 
and great tusks protruded from its mouth. 
'The eyes were green and glowing with 
some dreadful light, and there were 
horns growing from the forehead. I tell 
you there were!” She paused a moment 
while she fought for breath; then, very 
softly: "It was the Devil!” 

"Eh bien, Mademoiselle, this is of in- 


terest, certainly. And then, if you 
please ” 

"Then I fainted again. I don’t know 
how long I lay on the floor, but as soon 
as I came to I called police headquarters.” 

De Grandin turned to Qiief O’Toole. 
"You came at once?” he asked. 

"Yes, sor.” 

"Who came with you?” 

"Kelley an’ Shea, sor.” 

"Trh bien. You searched the place in- 
side and out? What of the doors and 
windows?” 

"Locked, sor; locked tight as wax. 'Th’ 
little lady here let us in, afther askin’ 
who we wuz, an’ we heard her throw 
th’ lock an’ draw th’ inside bolt an’ chain- 
fastener. Th’ back door wuz tight locked, 
an’ every windy in th’ place but one wuz 
closed an’ latched. 'Th’ big windy in th’ 
livin’ -room upstairs wuz shut, but not 
latched, sor.” 

"Very good. And that window there 
— the one through which Mademoiselle 
declares she saw the face — ^what of it?” 

"It’s more’n ten foot from th’ ground, 
sor, an’ fixed — ^th’ frame’s set fast in th’ 
jamb, so’s it can’t be opened a-tall.” 

"Very good. Let us ascend and see 
what we shall see above.” 

T he upstairs living-room of Bostwidc’s 
house was a blaze of light, for Chief 
O’Toole and his aides had turned on every 
available bulb when they made their pre- 
liminary search. 

"Ah?” de Grandin murmured softly as 
we paused upon the threshold "A-ah?” 

Facing us through the doorway which 
gave upon the upper hall, his chin sunk 
on his breast, hands clenched into rigid 
fists upon the arms of his chair, a man sat 
staring endlessly at nothing with sight- 
less, film-glazed eyes. He had been in 
early middle life — forty-five, perhaps, 
possibly fifty years old — ^with profuse. 


250 


.WEIRD TALES 


gray-streaked hair and a Vandyke beard 
in which the brown was thidcly fledred 
with gray. In life his face must have 
been florid, but now it shone under the 
glowing electric bulbs with the ash-gray 
pallor which belongs only to death, his 
parted lips almost as blanched as his 
cheeks, little gouts of perspiration, glisten- 
ing like beads of oil, dewing his high, 
white forehead. 

The room behind him was a welter of 
confusion. Chairs were overturned, even 
broken, the contents of the center table — 
bits of expensive bric-a-brac and objects 
of vertu — ^were strewn upon the rich Tur- 
key carpet, the pieces of an almost price- 
less K’angshi vase lay scattered in one cor- 
ner. 

De Grandin advanced and slowly sur- 
veyed the corpse, walking round it, ob- 
serving it from every side. A little to the 
left and above the right ear a deep, 
wedge-shaped depression showed in the 
skull, blood, a little ruptured brain-sub- 
stance and serous cerebrospinal fluid es- 
caping from the wound. The Frenchman 
looked at me with elevated brows and 
nodded questioningly. I nodded back. 
Death must have been instantaneous. 

"D’ye see it, sor?” O’Toole demanded 
in an awed whisper, pointing to the dead 
man’s forehead. 

There was no denying it. Impressed 
upon the flesh, as though stamped there 
with almost crushing force, was the bifur- 
cated imprint of 4 giant goat’s hoof. 

"They must ’a’ had th’ divil of a fight,” 
O’Toole opined as he surveyed the devas- 
tated room. 

De Grandin looked about him care- 
fully. "It seems so,” he agreed, "but why 
the Evil One should vent his wrath upon 
the poor man’s chattels when he had 
killed the owner gives one to wonder 
n’est-ce-fas?’ 


"An’ — an’ d’ye notice th’ shmell, sor?” 
O’Toole added diffidently, 

De Grandin’s narrow nostrils contract- 
ed and expanded nervously as he snifl^ed 
the air. I, too, inhaled, and down the 
back of my neck and through my cheeks 
ran tiny ripples of horror-chills. There 
was no mistaking it — ^trust one who’d 
served a term as city health officer to 
know! Faint, but clearly perceptible, 
there was the pungent, acrid scent of 
burning sulfur in the room. 

De Grandin’s small blue eyes were very 
round and almost totally expressionless as 
he looked from O’Toole to me and back 
again. At length: "Out-da,” he agreed, 
'West le soufre, vraiment. No matter, we 
have other tilings to do than inhale silly 
scents.” 

"But, sor ” O’Toole began. 

"But be grilled upon the grates of hell, 
mon vieux. What make you of this?” he 
pointed to a splash of blood, roughly cir- 
cular in shape, and some four or five 
inches in diameter, which disfigured the 
carpet almost underneath the window. 

"Huh? Why that’s where he bled, 
sor,” the Irishman replied, after a mo- 
ment’s study of the ruddy spot. 

"Exactement, my friend — ^where he 
bled. Now, consider this ” Wheel- 

ing, he led us bads to the seated body, 
and pointed in turn to the dead man’s 
collar and the back of the chair. Scarcely 
a bloodstain showed on them. 

"I don’t think I quite git ye, sor,” the 
chief admitted after a long scrutiny. 

"Ah bah, my friend, are you then 
blind?” the Frenchman asked him almost 
angrily. "Consider: One window was 
open, or unlatched, at least; and by that 
window we find blood. It is almost the 
only blood we find. But Monsieur Bost- 
widc is seated in his chair, almost as 
though awaiting visitors. Is that the way 
a man would be if he had died in fight?” 


THE DARK ANGEt 


231 


"Well, sor”— O’Toole put up a hand 
to saatch his head — "he might ’a’ stag- 
gered to that chair an’ died there, afther 
he’d been struck ’’ 

"Name of a blue rat, my friend, how 
can you say so?” de Grandin interrupted. 
"The blow which killed this poor one 
caused instant death. Doctor Trowbridge 
will bear me out in that. No human man 
could live three seconds following such a 
blow. Besides, if the man had staggered 
across the room, there would be blood 
upon the floor if he leant forward as he 
crawled toward the chair, or blood upon 
his collar if he stood upright; yet we see 
none save in this single spot. That is the 
spot where he bled, my friend. He was 
undoubtlessly struck dead close by the 
window, then carried to that chair and 
placed there with both feet flat upon the 
floor, and hands composed upon the 
arms, and then the one who killed him 
smashed the furniture to bits. The testi- 
mony of the room can be interpreted no 
other way.” 

The Irishman glanced round the room, 
then at the dead man. "Howly Mither,” 
he exclaimed at length, "I’m damned if 
I don’t think th’ dominie is right, sor. It 
were th’ Divil as done this thing. No 
mortal man could fly up to that windy an’ 
kill th’ pore felly in that way!” He paused 
to bless himself, then: "Let’s be goin’, 
sor. ’There’s no good cornin’ from our 
stayin’ here!” 

De Grandin nodded in agreement. 
’Then, as we reached the lower hall: 'We 
shall not need the pretty lady’s testimony. 
Chief. I believe her story absolutely — 
she was too frightened to be lying — and 
nothing she can tell us will throw light 
upon the case. Meantime, if you will 
have a strict watch kept, and see that no 
one comes or goes, except the under- 
taker’s men when they come for the body, 
I shall be greatly in your debt.” 


To the trembling, half-hysterical girl 
he announced: "You are free to go at 
will, petite, and were I you, I should not 
long remain here; one never knows who 
may come, and having come, depart and 
retail gossip.” 

"You mean I may go — now?” she 
asked in incredulous delight. 

"Perfectly, my little cabbage, to go and 
sin — ^with more discretion in the future.” 

5 

P ALE daylight had scarcely dawned 
when de Grandin nudged and kicked 
me into wakefulness. "Have you forgot- 
ten that we inspect Monsieur Bostwick’s 
house today?” he asked reproachfully. 
"Come, my friend, rush, hasten, make the 
hurry; we have much to do and I would 
be about it while there are not too many 
to observe our actions.” 

Our hasty toilets made and a call put 
through to ask O’Toole to meet us, we 
hurried to the house of death, and while 
we waited for the chief, de Grandin made 
a careful circuit of the place. "'This is 
undoubtlessly the window where the lit- 
tle lady with the fragile morals saw the 
evil face look through,” he mused, paus- 
ing under the big chimney which reared 
itself along the southern wall. 

"Yes,” I agreed, "and it’s directly 
underneath the window of the room 
where Bostwick’s body was found, too; 
the window Chief O’Toole said was 
closed but unlocked.” 

"Excellent,” he clapped his hands, as 
though applauding at a play. "I shall 
make something of you yet. Friend Trow- 
bridge. You have right, now — ah? Que 
diable?" 

He broke off sharply, aouched sud- 
denly upon the frozen lawn and crq)t 
forward quickly, as though intent upmi 
taking something by surprize. "You see?*' 
he asked in a tense whisper. 


232 


WEIRD TALES 


A tiny coppice of dwarf spruce was 
planted in the angle of the chimney and 
the house-wall, and as he pointed I saw 
that one or two small branches were 
freshly broken, the tender wood showing 
white and pallid through the ruptured 
bark. 

Following him, I saw him part the 
lower boughs, examine the frosty ground 
with his nose almost thrust into it, then 
saw him straighten like a coiled spring 
suddenly released from tension. "Be- 
hold!” he bade me, seizing my wrist and 
dragging me forward. Upon the hard 
earth showed a tiny stain, a dull, brown- 
colored stain, no larger than a split bean, 
but unmistakable. Blood! 

"How ’’ I began, but: 

"And look at this — ^ten thousand small 
blue devils! — look at this, my friend, and 
tell me what it is you see!” he ordered 
sharply. Nearer the house, where the 
chimney’s warmth had kept the frost from 
hardening the earth to any great extent, 
there showed two prints — footprints — but 
sudi footprints! 

One was obviously human, a long and 
slimly aristocratic foot, shod with a moc- 
casin or some sort of soft shoe, for there 
was no well-defined impression of a built- 
up heel. But close beside it, so placed it 
must have been left by the same person, 
was the clear-cut, unmistakable impres- 
sion of a hoof — a cloven hoof — as though 
an ox or giant goat had stamped there. 

"Well!” I exclaimed, then paused for 
very want of words in which to frame my 
reeling thoughts. 

"Non,” he denied emphatically. "It is 
most unwell. Friend Trowbridge. It is 
diabolical, no less. Tout la tnetn ^' — he 
raised his narrow shoulders in a shrug — 
"I shall not be dissuaded. Thou^ Satan’s 
self has done these things. I’ll not desist 
until I have him clapped in jail, my 
friend. Consider, has not the mayor of 


Norfolk Downs retained me for that 
purpose.^ Come, let us go. I see the good 
O’Toole approaching, and he will surely 
be made ill if he should see this thing.’* 

Once more we searched the house as 
carefully as a jeweler might search a gem 
for hidden flaws, but nowhere was there 
any clue to help us. At length: "We 
must look at the roof,” de Grandin said. 
"It may be we shall find some little, so 
small thing to aid us there; the good God 
knows we have not found it here.” 

"Arra, Doctor de Grandin, sor, 'tain’t 
Christmastime fer nigh anodier year,” 
O’Toole objected. 

"Eh, what is it that you tell me — 
noel?” the Frendunan answered sharply. 

"Why, sor, ye must be afther thinkin’ 
it wuz Santy Claus as did in Misther 
Bostwick, instead o’ — instead o’ Satan.” 
He looked quiddy round, as though he 
feared some hidden listener, dien signed 
himself furtively with the cross. 

De Grandin grinned acknowledgment 
of the sally, but led the way micompro- 
misingly to the attic from which a trap- 
door let upon the steep, tiled roof. Paus- 
ing for a moment to survey die serrated 
rows of semi-cylindrical tiles with which 
the housetop was covered, he threw a leg 
over the ridgepole and began slowly 
working his way toward the chimney. 
Early as it was, several small boys loiter- 
ing in the street, the policeman on guard 
outside the house and a dog of highly 
doubtful ancestry were on hand to wit- 
ness his aerial performance, and as he 
reached the chimney and clung to it, both 
arms encircling the tall terra-ootta pot 
with which the flue was capped, we cau^t 
a flash of black and saw the Reverend 
Basil Folloilott pause in a rapid walk and 
gaze up wonderingly. 

De Grandin hugged the chimney some 
three minutes, crooked his knee across 
the angle of the roof and leant as fafi 


THE DARK ANGEL 


233 


downward as was possible, examining 
the glaaed, round tiles, then slowly 
hitched himself back to the trap-door 
where O’Toole and I were waiting. 

"Find anythin’, sor?’’ the chief inquired 
good-humoredly. 

"Enough to justify the risk of breaking 
the most valuable neck which I possess,’’ 
the Frenchman answered with a smile. 
"Parbleu, enough to give one food for 
speculation, too, I am inclined to think!’’ 

"What WU 2 it?’’ 

The Frenchman opened his hand, and 
in the palm of his gray glove we saw a 
slim, dark object resting, a little wisp of 
horsehair, I supposed. 

"What ’’ O’Toole began, but: 

"No whats, my friend, no whys, not 
even any wherefores, if you please,’’ the 
other cut him short. "Me, I shall cogitate 
upon this matter — ^this and some others. 
Anon I may announce the goal to which 
my thoughts have led. Meantime 1 am 
too well aware that it is villainously cold 
up here and I am most tremendously in 
need of food.’’ 

B reakfast was laid in the pleasant 
room adjoining Wilcox’s kitchen 
when we returned, and de Grandin did 
full justice to the meal. He was com- 
mencing his fifth cup of well-creamed 
coffee when a maid announced the Rev- 
erend Basil Folloilott. 

Despite the coldness of the day, the 
clergyman’s pale face was even paler 
than its usual wont as he came into the 
breakfast room, still a little short of 
breath from rapid walking. "Dreadful 
news of Mr. Bostwick,’’ he announced as 
he greeted us reservedly. "The poor un- 
fortunate, cut off in deadly sin — if only 

he had seen the light in time ’’ 

"Who says he was cut off in sin, Mon- 
sieur?” de Grandin broke in suddenly. 

“I do,’’ the clergyman’s pale lips 


snapped shut upon the words. "I know 
he was. Time after time, night after 
night, I saw his paramours arriving at his 
door as I watched from my study win- 
dow, and I went to him with messages of 
peace — redemption and release through 
hearty and unfeigned repentance. But 
he ’’ 

"Eh bien, Monsieur, one can guess 
without great difficulty what he said to 
you,’’ the Frenchman answered with a 
laugh. 

"One can,’’ the cleric answered hotly. 
"He told me to go to the devil — ^me, the 
messenger of holiness. There was no 
hope for such as he. He led a life of sin; 
in sin he died, and God can find no pity 
for a wretch like him. The Lord Him- 
self ’’ 

"It seems I have read somewhere of a 
lady whose behavior was not all a lady's 
conduct ought to be, yet who was counted 
of some worth in later days,” de Grandin 
interrupted softly. 

An ugly sneer gathered at the corners 
of Folloilott’s mouth. "Indeed?’’ he asked 
sarcastically. "She was a countrywoman 
of yours, no doubt. Monsieur de Gran- 
din?” 

"No-o,” the Frenchman answered slow- 
ly, while a malicious twinkle flickered in 
bis eyes. "She was from Magdala — the 
Scriptures call her Mary Magdalene, and 
somewhere I have heard the Blessed 
Master did not bar her out of Paradise, 
although her life had been at least as bad 
as that of Monsieur Bostwick.” 

“T SAY, de Grandin, you seem to take 
-8- delight in getting a rise out of Fol- 
loilott,” Wilcox accused when the clergy- 
man had taken a hasty and offended leave. 

The almost boorish manner of the 
preacher puzzled me. "Perhaps the man’s 
a pious hypocrite,” I hazarded but: 

"Mms non," denied the Frenchman. 


234 


WEIRD TALES 


"Pious he is, I freely grant — ^but a hypo- 
crite? No, it is not so. He is in deadly 
earnest, that one. How much his deadli- 
ness exceeds his earnestness I should not 

care to guess, but ” He lapsed into 

a moody silence. 

"What d’ye mean?” I urged. "Are 

you implying that ” 

"Ah bah, I did but let my wits go 
wool-gathering — there is a black dog run- 
ning through my brain. Friend Trow- 
bridge,” he apologized. "Forget what I 
have said; I was conversing through the 
hat, as you so drolly say.” 

6 

D e grandin was busy all that day, 
making a hasty trip to the city, re- 
turning for luncheon, then dashing off to 
consult Qiief O’Toole till nearly dinner 
time. 

He kept the table in an uproar with his 
witty sallies throughout the meal, and 
when dessert was served young George 
Wilcox pulled a long face. "I’d rather 
sit right here and talk with you than go 
out tonight, Doctor de Grandin,” he de- 
clared, "but ” 

"Ah-ha; ah-ha-ha — I see him!” 
laughed de Grandin. "I too was young 
upon a time, my friend. I know the 
ecstasy of the little hand’s soft pressure, 
the holy magic which can be found with- 
in the loved one’s glance. Go to her with 
speed, mon vieux; you were not half a 
man if you delayed your tryst to talk with 
such a silly one as Jules de Grandin. Hold 
her hand gently, mon brave, it is a fragile 
thing, I make no doubt.” 

The boy retreated with a sheepish grin 
and heightened color. 

"I wish George wouldn’t see her,” 
Mrs. Wilcox sighed plaintively. "They’re 
terribly in love, of course, but Mr. Fol- 
loilott won’t hear of it — ^he’s mapped the 
poor girl’s life for her, you know, and 


next May she starts on her novitiate at 
Carlinville. I suppose he knows best, he’s 

such a thoroughly good man, but ” 

She broke off with another sigh, as 
though she felt herself a heretic for ques- 
tioning the rector’s wisdom. 

We played bridge after dinner, but de 
Grandin’s mind was not upon the game. 
He lost consistently, and shortly after ten 
o’clock excused himself on the plea he 
had a busy day before him, paid his losses 
and furtively beckoned me to join him in 
our room. 

"Friend Trowbridge,” he informed 
me earnestly, "we must do something for 
those children. It is an outrage two young 
hearts should thus be pried apart. You 
saw the look she gave him yesternight at 
table — a look in which her very heart 
beat for release against the fetters of her 
eyes. You saw the look on young Mon- 
sieur^s face this evening. Our business is 
to help them to each other.” 

"Our business is to find out who’s per- 
petrating these murders — if it’s not the 
Devil himself, as O’Toole and Folloilott 
seem to think,” I broke in roughly. '"This 
boy-and-girl affair’s just puppy love. They 
may think their hearts are broken, 
but ” 

"Zut, who says it?” he cried sharply. 
"I tell you, good Friend Trowbridge, a 
man’s heart breaks but once, and then it 
is forever. Misere deDieu, do I not know 
it? As for these killings, my friend, I am 
the wiser, though not sadder, man to- 
night. Attend me: At Harrisonville I 
had the tiny flecks of hard-dried liquid 
which we found outside Monsieur Bost- 
wick’s window analyzed. They were, as 
I suspected, blood — ^human blood. Also, 
while he was absent on some parish duty, 
I did feloniously and most unlawfully in- 
sert myself into the reverend gentleman’s 
study, and made a careful search. Behold 
what I have found ” From the pocket 


THE DARK ANGEL 


235 


of his dinner coat he took several small, 
twisted things, grayish, curved objects 
which looked for all the world like sec- 
tions of a hard, gray doughnut. 

"What the deuce ’’ I began, but 

he stopped me with a grin. 

"Qiains, my friend — chains of the 
devil, no less. The mystery of the holy 
Michael’s tether for the Devil is ex- 
plained. I would not go so far as to de- 
clare that the good cleric broke that 
carven chain, then spread the story of im- 
pending doom about; but unquestionably 
he had possession of the missing links, 
even while he helped search for them in 
pl2U£S where he knew that they were not. 
What do you make of that.^’’ 

"Why ’’ I looked at him in open- 

mouthed amazement. "WTiy ’’ 

"Exactly, precisely; quite so. It is our 
task to find out why, and unless I am 
more mistaken than I think I am, we 
shall know something ere we see another 
morning.” 

Yawning, he stripped off his jacket and 
waistcoat, pulled his pajama coat on 
above his shirt, and proceeded to snap on 
every available bulb in the room. Once 
more he yawned prodigiously, went to 
the window and vmbarred it, flinging 
wide the casement and spreading wide 
his arms in a tremendous stretch. I 
yawned in sympathy as he stood there 
with jaws agape, the personification of a 
man who can withstand the urge to sleep 
no longer. 

A moment he stood thus, then, snap- 
ping off the light, leaped quiddy in the 
bed and pulled the comforter about his 
neck. 

"Good Lord, you’re not going to sleep 
that way, are you.^” I asked, amazed. 

"Pardieu, I shall not sleep at all, my 
friend!” he answered in a whisper. "And 
you will please have the goodness not to 
shout Qimb into bed if you desire, and 


pull the blankets over you, but do not 
sleep; we shall have need of wakefulness 
before the ni^t is done, I damn think.” 

Despite his admonition, I dropped off. 
'The respite from the cares of my practise 
and the dull evening at cards combined 
to wear down my will to stay awake. How 
long I slept I do not know, but something 
— that odd sixth sense which rouses sleep- 
ing cats, dogs and physicians — brought 
me full-conscious from the fairyland of 
dreams. No time was needed to orient 
myself; my eyes turned unbidden to the 
window which de Grandin had left open. 

The steady southwest w’ind had chased 
the clouds before it, and the moonii^t 
fell as bright, almost, as midday on the 
planted lawn outside. Bars of the silvery 
luminance struck through the open case- 
ment and lay along the floor, as bright 
and unobscured as — ^stay, there was a 
shadow blotting out the moonlight, some- 
thing was moving very slowly, sound- 
lessly, outside the window. 

I strained my eyes to pierce the inter- 
vening gloom, then sat bolt-upright, hor- 
ror gripping at my throat, chill, grisly 
fear dragging at my scalp. 

Across the eighteen-inch-wide sill it 
came, as quiet as a creeping snake; a 
great, black thing, the moonlight glinting 
evilly on the polished scales which over- 
laid its form. From its shoulders, right 
and left, spread great, black wings, 
gleaming with a sort of horrid, half- 
dulled luster, and as they grasped the 
window-sill I caught a glimpse of long, 
curved talons, pitiless as those of any vul- 
ture, but larger and more cruel by far 
than those of any bird. 

But awful as the dread form was, the 
countenance was more so. A ghastly sort 
of white it was, not white as snow or 
polished bone is white, not white as 
death’s pale visage may be white, but a 
leprous, unclean white, the sort of pallor 


236 


WEIRD TALES 


which can not be dissociated from dis- 
ease, corruption and decay. Through the 
pale mask of horror looked two brilliant, 
glaring eyes, like corpse-lights shining 
through the sockets of a fleshless skull, 
and from the forehead reared a pair of 
curving, pointed horns. A dreadful mem- 
ory rushed across the years, a memory of 
childish fear which had laid dormant but 
undead for nearly half a century. With 
my own eyes I saw in living form the 
figure of Apollyon out of Pilgrim’s Pro- 
gress! 

I tried to cry aloud, to warn de Gran- 
din of the visitant’s approach, but only a 
dull, aoaking sound, scarce louder than 
a sigh, escaped my palsied lips. 

Low as the utterance was, it seemed to 
carry to the creeping horror. With a wild, 
demoniac laugh it launched itself upon 
the bed where my little friend lay sleep- 
ing, and in an instant I heard the sicken- 
ing impact of a blow — another blow — 
and then a high, cracked voice crying: 
"Accursed of God, go now and tell your 
master who keeps watch and ward upon 
the earth!” 

Weapon I had none, but at the bedside 
stood a table with a chromium carafe of 
chilled spring water, and this I hurled 
with all my might straight at the awful 
face. 

A second marrow-freezing cry went up, 
and then a flash of blinding light — bright 
as a summer storm’s forked lightning on 
a dark night — flared in my eyes, and I 
choked and gasped as strangling fumes 
of burning sulfur filled my mouth and 
nostrils. 

"De Grandin, oh, de Grandin!” I 
wailed, leaping from the bed and blun- 
dering against furniture as I sought the 
light. Too well I knew that Jules de 
Grandin could not hear my voice, already 
I had seen the effects of such flailing 
blows as I had heard; the little French- 


man lay upon his bed, his head crushed 
in, his gallant spirit gone for ever from 
his slender, gallant body. 

"Tiens, my friend, you battled him 
right manfully. I dare assert his belly is 
most villainously sore where you hit it 
with the bottle,” de Grandin’s voice came 
to me from the farther end of the room, 
and as my light-burned eyes regained 
their sight, I saw him crawl forth from 
behind an overstuffed armchair. 

My first impulse was to rush upon him 
and clasp him in my arms; then sudden 
hot resentment rose within me. "You 
were there all the time,” I accused. "Sup- 
pose it had struck me instead of ” 

"Of the pillow which I so artistically 
arranged within the bed to simulate my- 
self.^” he interrupted with an impish 
grin. "In such a case I should have 
brought this into play.” He waved the 
heavy French army revolver which he 
held in his right hand. "I could have 
dropped him at any time, but I desired to 
see what he was about. It was a gallant 
show, n’est-ce-pas?” 

"But — but was it really human?” I de- 
manded, shuddering at the dreadful 
memory of the thing. "D’ye suppose a 
bullet could have reached it? I could 
have sworn ” 

"Assuredly you could,” he acquiesced 
and chuckled. "So can the good O’Toole, 
and so can our most reverend friend, the 
abbe with the funny name, but ” 

A thunderous knocking at the door 
broke through his words. "Doctor de 
Grandin, is everything all right?” Mayor 
Wilcox called anxiously. "I thought I 
heard a noise in your room, and — noth- 
ing’s happened, has it?” 

"Not yet,” the Frenchman answered 
coolly. "Nothing of any consequence. 
Monsieur le Moire; but something of im- 
portance happens shortly, or Jules de 


THE DARK ANGEL 


237 


Grandin will eat turnips for next Qirist- 
mas dinner.” 

"That’s good,” Mayor Wilcox an- 
swered. "At first I thought it might be 
George stumbling over something as he 
came in, but ” 

"Ha? Petit Monsieur Georges — he is 
still out.^” the Frenchman interrupted 
shrilly. 

"Yes, but ” 

"Grand Dieu des pores, grand Dieu 
des coqs; grand Dieu des artichauts — • 
come. Friend Trowbridge, for your life, 
for his life, for their lives; we must 
hasten, rush, fly to warn them of the hor- 
ror which stalks by night! Oh, make 
haste, my friend; make haste, I beg of 
you!” 

Wondering, I got into my hat and 
overcoat while de Grandin thrust the 
heavy pistol in his outer pocket and beat 
his hands together as he urged me fever- 
ishly to hurry. 

"Tell me. Monsieur," he asked the 
mayor, "where does Monsieur Georges 
make the assignation with his sweetheart? 
Not at the rectory, I hope?” 

"That’s the worst of it,” Wilcox an- 
swered. "Folloilott’s forbidden him the 
house, so Janet slips out and meets him 
somewhere and they drive around; I 
shouldn’t be surprized if they were 
parked along the roadside somewhere; 
but only Heaven knows where. With all 
this reckless driving and bootlegging and 
hijacking going on. I’m in a perfect jit- 
ter every night till he gets home, 
and ” 

"Name of a mannerless small blue pig, 
our task is ten times harder!” the French- 
man interrupted. "Come, Friend Trow- 
bridge, we must search the secret paths, 
seek out the cars secluded by the roadside 
and warn them of their peril. Pardieu, I 
should have warned him of it ere he left 
the house!” 


,7 

T here was something vaguely sinister 
in the night as we set out; a chill not 
wholly due to the shrewd wind which 
blew in from the meadows was biting at 
my nerves as we walked quickly down the 
winding, darkened road. Some half a 
dozen blocks beyond the house we came 
on a parked car, but when de Grandin 
flashed his searchlight toward it the angry 
question of a strange young man in- 
formed us we had failed to find the pair 
we sought. Nevertheless: 

'"The thing responsible for the deaths 
which have terrorized the town is out to- 
night, my friends,” the little Frenchman 
warned. "We ourselves have seen it but 

a moment since, and ” 

'"rhen you stay here and see it by your” 
self, old chap!” the young man bade, as 
he disengaged himself from the clinging 
arms of his companion, shot his self- 
starter and set his car in motion. 

Three other amorous couples took to 
flight as we gave warning, and de Gran- 
din was close upon hysteria when the 
darting shaft of luminance from his flash- 
light at last picked out the dark-blue body 
of young Wilcox’s modish roadster. As 
we crept softly forward we heard a 
woman’s voice, rich, deep contralto, 
husky with emotion: 

"My darling, more to me than this 
world and the next, it must — it has to be 
— ^good-bye. 'There is no way I can avoid 
it, no other way, my dear. It’s fate — the 
will of God — whatever we may choose to 
call it, dear; but it has to be. If it were 
any one else, it might be different, but 
you know him; you know how much he 
hates the world and how much such 
things mean to him. And if it were only 
that he wanted me to do it, I might defy 
him — though I never did before. Love 
might make me brave enough to do it — 
but it’s more than that. I’m vowed and 


238 


WEIRD TALES 


dedicated, dear; long, long ago I took an 
oath upon my naked knees to do this 
thing, and I can not — I dare not break it. 
Oh, my dearest one, why — why — did I 
have to meet you before they had me 
safely in the sisterhood? I might have 
been happy, for you can’t miss the sun- 
shine if you’ve always been blind, but 

now “ Sbe paused, and in a faint 

glow of the dashboard light we saw her 
take his face between her hands, draw his 
head to her and kiss him on the lips. 

"Monsieur — Mademoiselle " the 

Frenchman started, but never finished 
speaking. 

Out of the blackness of surrounding 
night, its body but a bare shade lighter 
than the gloom, dreadful, fleshless head 
and horrid eyes agleam, emerged the 
phantom-thing we'd seen a half-hour 
earlier in our bedroom. The night wind 
whistled with a kind of hellish glee be- 
tween the sable pinions of the thing’s ex- 
tended wings, and the gleam of phos- 
phorescence in its hollow, orbless eye- 
holes was like the staring of a basilisk. I 
stood immobile, rooted in my tracks, and 
watched destruction bearing down upon 
the hapless lovers. 

Not so de Grandin. "Sa-ha, Monsieur 
I’ Assistant du Diable, it seems we meet 
again — unhappily for you!” he an- 
nounced in a deadly, quiet voice, and as 
he spoke the detonation of his pistol split 
the quiet night as summer thunder rends 
a lowering rain-cloud. Crash — crash! the 
pistol roared again; the phantom-thing 
paused, irresolute as though a wall of 
hidden steel had suddenly been reared in 
its path, and as it halted momentarily, the 
Frenchman fired again, coolly, deliber- 
ately, taking careful aim before he 
squeezed the trigger of his heavy weapon. 

A sort of crackling, like the scutteriiig 
of dry, dead leaves along the autumn 
roads, sounded as the fearsome thing bent 


slowly bade, tottered uncertainly a mo- 
ment, then fell to earth with a sharp, 
metallic rattle and lay there motionless, 
its wide, black wings outspread, its scale- 
clad arms outflung, its legs grotesquely 
twisted under it. 

"Tiens. I did not shoot too soon, it 
seems,” de Grandin told young Wilcox 
cheerfully as he neared the roadster and 
smiled upon the startled lovers. "Had I 
delayed a second longer I damn think that 
the papers would have told the story of 
another murder in the morning.” 

I walked up to the supine monster, a 
sort of grisly terror tugging at my nerves, 
even though my reason reassured me it 
was dead. 

The eyeholes in the skull-like face still 
glared malevolently, but a closer look 
convinced me that nothing more uncanny 
than luminous paint was responsible for 
their sullen gleam. i 

Half timidly, half curiously, I bent 
and touched the thing. The face was but 
a mask of some plaster-like substance, and 
this was cracked and broken just above 
the eyes, and through the fissure, where 
de Grandin’s ball had gone there came a 
little stream of blood, dyeing the gray- 
white surface of the plaster mask a sick- 
ening rusty-red. About the body and the 
limbs was drawn a tightly-fitting suit of 
tough, black knitted fabric, similar to the 
costume of an acrobat, and to the cloth 
was sewn row after row of overlapping 
metal scales. One foot was clothed in 
what looked like a heavy stocking of the 
same material as the suit, while to the 
other was affixed two plinths of solid rub- 
ber — evidently the halves of a split rub- 
ber heel. Here was the explanation of the 
cloven footprint we had seen impressed 
upon the earth by Bostwick’s house. 

Still grasped within the thing’s right 
hand there lay the handle of the oddest- 
looking hammer I had ever seen — heavg 


THE DARK ANGEt 


239 


as a blacksmith’s sledge, but fashioned 
like an anvil, one end a sharp and pointed 
cone, the other flat, but fitted with a sort 
of die shaped like the hoof of a gigantic 
goat. "That’s it!” I murmxired, as if I 
would convince myself. "That’s what was 
used to stamp the Devil’s mark upon the 
victims’ faces. First smash the skull with 
the pointed end, and then reverse the 
weapon and stamp the victim with the 
Devil’s brand!” 

Again I bent to touch the ghastly head, 
and at my touch the mask rolled sidewise, 
then, shattered as it had been by de Gran- 
din’s bullet, split in two parts, laying bare 
the face beneath. 

"De — de Grandin!” I croaked hoarse- 
ly, "it — it’s ” 

"Of course it is,” he supplied as my 
lips refused to frame the name. "I have 
known for some time it was the reverend 
gentleman — who else could it have 
been?” 

He turned his shoulder toward me and 
called across it: "Leave him as he lies, 
my friend; he will make interesting ma- 
terial for the coroner.” 

"But — but don’t you even want to 
look?” I expostulated, horrified by his 
indifference. 

"For why?” he answered. "I saw him 
when he tried to batter out my brains. 
That look was quite enough, my friend; 
let the others gaze on him and marvel; 
let us return to Monsieur Wilcox’s house 
with these ones; there is something I 
would say to them anon.” 

8 

D e grandin called O’Toole and told 
him briefly what had happened, 
then having notified him where the body 
lay, hung up the telephone and turned a 
level stare upon young Wilcox and the 
girl. 

"My friends,” he told them sternly, 


"you are two fools — two mutton-headed, 
senseless fools. How dare you trifle with 
the love the good God gives you? Would 
you despise His priceless gift? Ah bah, 
I had thought better of you!” 

"But, Doctor de Grandin,” Janet 
Payne’s reply was like a wail, "I can’t do 
otherwise; I’m vowed and dedicated to a 
life of penance and renunciation. He 
made me take an oath, and ” 

"A-ah?” the Frenchman’s voice cut 
through her explanation. "He made you, 
hein? Very good; tell us of it, if you will 
be so kind.” 

"I was a little girl v/hen he first took 
me,” she answered, her voice growing 
calmer as she spoke. "My parents and I 
were traveling in Ecuador when we came 
down with fever. We were miles from 
any city and medical help could not be 
had. Mr. Folloilott came along while we 
were lying at the point of death in a na- 
tive’s hut, and nursed us tenderly. He 
risked his death from fever every mo- 
ment he was with us, but showed no sign 
of fear. Mother died the day he came, 
and Father realized he had not long to 
live; so when the kind clergyman offered 
to take me as his ward, he gladly con- 
sented and signed a document Mr. Fol- 
loilott prepared. 'Then he died. 

"It was a long, long time before I was 
strong enough to travel, but finally my 
strength came back, and we got throu^ 
to the coast. Mr. Folloilott had tlie paper 
Father signed validated at the consul’s 
ofl5ce, then brought me back to this coun- 
try. I never knew if I had any relatives 
or not. I know my guardian never looked 
for them. 

"For a long time, till I was nearly 
twelve years old, he never let me leave 
the house alone. I never had a playmate, 
and Mr. Folloilott acted as my tutor. I 
spoke French and Spanish fluently and 
could read the hardest Greek and Latin 


240 


WEIRD TALES 


texts at sight before I was eleven, and had 
gone through calculus when I was twelve. 
The Book of Common Prayer and the 
Hymnal were my text-books, and I could 
repeat every hymn from New Every 
hioming Is the Love to There is a Blessed 
Home Beyond this Land of Wo by 
heart.” 

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed de Grandin 
pityingly. 

"When I had reached thirteen he sent 
me to a sisters’ school," the girl con- 
tinued. "I boarded there and didn’t leave 
during vacation; so I was much more ad- 
vanced than any of the other pupils, and 
when I was fifteen they sent me home — ■ 
back to Mr. Folloilott, I mean. 

"Of course, coming bade to the lonely 
rectory with no company but my guardian 
was hard after school, and I was home- 
sick for the convent. He noticed it, and 
one day asked me if I shouldn’t like to go 
back to Carlinville to stay. I told him 
that I would, and ” 

She paused a moment and a thought- 
ful pucker gathered between her brows, 
as though an idea had struck her for the 
first time. "Why” — she exclaimed — 
"why, it was no better than a trick, 
and ” 

"Eh bien, we. do digress. Mademoi- 
selle" the Frenchman interrupted with a 
smile, '"rhe evidence first, if you please, 
the verdict afterward. You told the rev- 
erend gentleman you should like to re- 
turn to the good sisters, and ’’ 

"And then he took me to the church,” 
she answered, "and led me to the chancel, 
where he made me stop and turn my 
stockings down so that I knelt on my bare 
knees, while he held a Bible out to me, 
and made me put my hands on it and 
swear that I would dedicate myself to 
holy poverty, chastity and obedience, and 
as soon as I had reached eighteen, would 
go to Carlinville and enter as a postulant, 


progressing to the novitiate and finally 
making my profession as a nun. 

"It was shortly after that Mr. Folloi- 
lott received the call to Norfolk Downs 

and I met George, and ” her voice 

trailed off, and once again sobs choked 
her words. 

D e grandin tweaked the ends of his 
mustache and smiled a trifle grimly. 
"I wish I had not shot him dead so 
quickly,” he muttered to himself; then, to 
the girl: 

"A promise such as that is no promise 
at all. Mademoiselle. As you yourself 
have said, it was a trick, and a most des- 
picable one, at that. Now listen to my 
testimony. Mademoiselle: 

"When Monsieur Wilcox called me to 
this place to look into these so strange 
murders, I was most greatly puzzled. The 
evidence of Chief O’Toole all pointed to 
some superphysical agency at work, and 
as I’d had much practise as a phantom- 
fighter, it was for me to say what tactics I 
should use, for what may rout a ghostly 
enemy is often useless when opposed to 
human foes, while what will kill a hu- 
man being dead is useless as a pointed 
finger when directed at a spirit. You ap- 
prehend? Very good. 

"So when I learned that Monsieur your 
guardian with the funny name I can not 
say had laid the onus of these killings on 
a piece of broken sculpture, I was most 
greatly interested. Stranger things had 
happened in the past; things quite as 
strange will doubtless happen in the fu- 
ture. The theory that the Devil was xm- 
loosed seemed ten^le but for one little 
single thing; Every one this Devil killed 
was some one of an evil life. "This is the 
very devil of a Devil, Jules de Grandin,' 
I tell me. 'Most times the Evil One at- 
tacks the good; this time the Evil One 
has singled out the evil for attack. It 

W.T.-6 


THE DARK ANGEL 


241 


does not hang together; it has the smell 
of fish upon it. Out-da, but of course.’ 

"Accordingly, I made the careful study 
of your guardian. He is a very pious 
man; that much one sees while both his 
eyes are closed. Ha, but piety and good- 
ness are not of necessity the same. By no 
means. Gille de Retz, the greatest mon- 
ster ever clothed in flesh, he was a pious 
man, but far from being good. Cbtton 
Mather, who hanged poor, inoffensive 
women on th« gallows tree, he was a 
pious man; so was Totquemada, who 
fouled the pure air of heaven with the 
burnings of the luckless Jews in Spain. 
They all were pious — too pious to be 
truly good, parbleu! 

'The evening when I met your guard- 
ian at dinner, I studied him some more. 
I hear Monsieur Wilcox tell the young 
rabbi that the debt upon his temple is ex- 
tended. How does Monsieur your guard- 
ian take that statement? It makes him 
iU, by blue! Furthermore, he has upon 
his face the look of one who finds too 
late that he had made a great and terrible 
mistake. The loan would have been called 
had not the money-lender died. Now, for 
the first time, the clergyman finds the 
hated Jews have profited by the Shylock’s 
death — and he looks as if he were about 
to die! 'Jules de Grandin, this are 
^ange,’ I tell me. 'You must keep the 
eye on tliis one, Jules de Grandin.' And, 
'Jules de Grandin, I shall do so,’ I reply 
to me. 

"Meanwhile, he has been at great pains 
to tell us all once mere that these killings 
are the work of righteous Heaven. Is it 
more superstition — or something else — 
which makes him tell me this? One won- 
ders. 

"When he had gone I learn that he 
has been a hunter and a mountain- 
climber, that he has shot a condor down 
W. T.— 7 


in flight. 'Ah-ha,’ I say to me, 'what does 
this mean, if anything?’ 

"The police chief has shown to me a 
feather clipped by his bullet from the 
dreadful being which commits these mur- 
ders. I have looked at it and recognized 
it. Although it has been metallized by a 
process of electro-plating, I have recc^- 
nized it instantly. It is the feather of a 
condor. U’m-m. Once more one won- 
ders, Mademoiselle. 

"And while we sit and talk before the 
fire, there come the tidings of another 
killing. Monsieur Bostwick has been 
slain. 

"We go at once and find him in his 
chair, dead like a mutton, and very peace- 
ful in his pose; yet all his goods and chat- 
tels have been smashed to bits. ’The blow 
which killed him had done so instantly, 
and there is blood to mark the spot where 
he fell — ^yet he sits in his chair. I look 
around and come to a conclusion. The 
smashing of the furniture is but a piece 
of window-dressing to cover up the man- 
ner of the killing. 

"But who can enter in a house where 
all the windows, save a single one upon 
the second floor, are latched, strike down 
a man, then vanish in thin air? I ask to 
know. Moreover, what was it that was 
seen to look into a window ten feet from 
the ground? I can not answer, but the 
next day I find that which helps me to- 
ward conclusions. 

"There is blood upon the ground by 
Monsieur Bostwick’s house; a little, tiny 
drop, it is, but I tedre it that it fell from 
off the murderer’s weapcHi. There are also 
footprints — most extraordinary footprints 
— in the soft earth by the house, "rhe 
murderer have stood here,’ I inform me. 

" 'Quite so,’ I agree with me, 'but 
where was he before he stood there?* 


242 


WEIRD TALES 


"So up upon the roof I go, and there 
I find a strand of horsehair. I think: 
Monsieur your guardian is a skilled 
mountain-climber; he had been to South 
America. In that land the vaqueros, or 
herdsmen, use lariats of plaited horsehair 
in their work; they find them lighter and 
stronger than hemp. That I remember. 
I remember something else: A skilled 
mountaineer might have lassoed the 
chimney of that house, have drawn him- 
self up to the roof, then lowered himself 
to the open window of the second-story 
room. He might have struck down Mon- 
sieur Bostwick from the window, then 
smashed the furniture to make it seem a 
struggle had been had. That done, he 
might have closed the window after him, 
lowered himself to the ground by his 
lariat, and made off while no one was the 
wiser. To disengage the lasso from the 
chimney would have been an easy task, 
I know, for i have seen it done when 
jutting rocks, instead of chimneys, held 
the mountain-climbers’ ropes. 

"As he slid down his rope he looked 
into the window of the hall, and when 
his evil mask was seen, they said it was 
the Devil. Yes, it were entirely possible. 

"Now, while I stood upon the roof 
sedcing that little strand of horsehair 
upon which hung my theory, who passed 
but your good guardian? He sees me 
there, and realizes I am hot upon the ex- 
planation of the crime. Anon he comes 
to Monsieur Wilcox’s house — ^perhaps to 
talk with me and find out what I know 
— and I exert myself to be most disagree- 
able. I wish to sting him into overt 
action. 

"Parbleu, I have not long to wait! This 
very night he comes into my room and 
would have served me as he did the 
others, but I am not beneath his hammer 
when it falls, and good Friend Trow- 


bridge knodcs tlie wind from him with a 
carafe. 

"And then, too late, I learn that you 
and Monsieur Georges have the assigna- 
tion. All well I know how that one will 
attack you if he finds you. To such an 
one the greatest insult is the thwarting of 
his will. And so I rush to warn you. The 
rest you know.’’ 

'"The man was mad!’’ I exclaimed. 

"Of course,’’ replied the Frenchman. 
"He was fanatically ascetic, and you can- 
not make the long nose at Dame Nature 
with impunity, my friend. As your Mon- 
sieur John Hay has said: 

... he who Nature scorns and mocks 
By Nature is mocked and scorned. 

"He brou^t his madness on himself, 
and ’’ 

"But that sulfurous, blinding fire we 
saw — O’Toole saw it, too. What was 
that?’’ 

"Have you never attended a banquet, 
my friend?’’ he asked with a grin. 

"A banquet — ^whatever are you talking 
about?” 

"About a banquet, parbleu — znA about 
the photographs they take of such festiv- 
ities. Do you not recall the magnesium 
flares the photographers set oflF to take 
their indoor pictures?” 

"You — ^you mean it was only flashlight 
powder?” I stammered. 

"Only that, my friend; nothing more 
fantastic, I assure you. Blazing in the 
dark, it blinded those who saw it; they 
smelled the acrid, pungent smoke, and 
imagination did the rest. Voila; we have 
the 'fires of hell’ of vyhich tlie good 
O’Toole did tell us.” 

Young Wilcox turned to Janet. "You 
see, dear,” he urged, "that promise was 
extracted from you by a trick. It can’t be 
binding, and I love you so much ” 


THE DARK ANGEL 


243 


De Grandin intermpted. ’'There is an- 
other vow that yoa must take, ray child,” 
he told the girl solemnly. 

"A — a vow?” she faltered. "Why, I 

thought — I was beginning to think ” 

"Then think of this: Can you repeat: 
T Janet, take thee, George, to my wedded 
husband ?” 


A blush suffused her face, but: "I’ll 
tidke that vow, if George still wants me,” 
she replied. 

"Wants you? Par la harbe ^un cochon 
vert, of a surety he wants you!” the 
Frenchman almost shouted. "And me, 
pardteu, I greatly want a drink of 
brandy!” 


Vhe 


5^unted Room 


By aUSTEL HASTINGS 


What is it that goes aeeping through this room. 
Trailing its dusty garments as it crawls? 

Why does the air seem like an icy breath 
That penetrates the dim and empty halls ? 


They say that Death came once into this room — 

That old four-poster in the corner there — 

They whisper^ too, of shrieks that pierce the night. 

Of banging doors, and blue light everywhere. 

A rose that hung outside the shuttered pane 

Withered and died one night when shrill winds moaned — 
The queer blue Eght hovered a while, and then 
The very timbers of the old house groaned. 


Weeds now run riot in the somber path 

Like snares for careless feet that wander through. 

But no one comes, for no one ventures near — 

Always there is the dim light, pale and blue. 

The low winds moan even on summer nights — 

There is a sighing sound in every room. 

The mice have full possession of the halls 

And hold their ghostly dance in shadowed gloom. 

They say each night when sane folk’s clocks strike twelve 
The Uue Nght glows a while throu^ shuttered panes, 
And then it is the Thing comes aawling back 
And tries to rid the flocur of aimsoa stains. 


Uhe 0 

CA^hantom Hand 

By VICTOR ROUSSEAU 

^An astounding novel of Black Magic, eery murders, and weird occult happenings 


The Story Thus Par 

H urrying home to Loma West, 
to whom he is engaged, Don 
Wentworth has the night vision 
of her father being executed by hanging, 
and awakes to find himself choking and 
gasping in his stateroom. Loma had sum- 
moned Don a year before, when he was 
in China, begging him to come to her at 
once, but he was captured by brigands, 
and held in bondage. In the morning 
Don reads a radio message to the effect 
that Senator Lemuel West has paid the 
last penalty of the law. 

At San Francisco he learns that West 
was convicted on circumstantial evidence 
of the murder of Police Captain Morse, 
who had the goods on him and his asso- 
ciates. He hurries to Cannonville, where 
West had lived, and meets one Sudh 
Hafi[2, a Persian in charge of a Babist 
temple. 

Hafiz takes Don out to the house of 
Godfrey Moore, a millionaire, in a lonely 
part of the country, warning him that 
Moore practises the Black Art. Moore is 
taking care of Lorna, who has become 
mentally deranged. Don can see that she 
hardly knows him. 

Moore shows his new television set to 
Hafiz, Don, and his bootlegger, Moroni, 
who had been mixed up in Senator West’s 
affairs. Don, horrified, sees, in place of 
the stage of the grand opera, which the 
others see, the scene of West’s hanging 
in the penitentiary yard. Suddenly the 
phantom West grows to life size and 
leaves the saeen. Moroni cries out. 


When the lights are turned on, he is 
found dead, with finger-marks about his 
throat. The story continues: 


“'YT’ou saw the same picture that I 

X did.^” demanded Don of the Per- 
sian, as the car purred back along the 
lonely road across the swamp. 

"I saw the same, and so did Moore, but 
not Moroni, for he was marked for death 
from the beginning. And his death was 
Godfrey Moore’s challenge to us." 

"You mean to say that Moroni was 
actually strangled by the phantom.^’’ asked 
Don incredulously. 

"Do not forget that you yourself had 
a narrow escape on board the President 
Harrison," replied the other. "Yes, I 
mean to say that Godfrey Moore finds 
himself hard-pressed, and probably black- 
mailed by his confederates, who joined 
with him in sending poor West to his 
death. Remember, it was at Moore’s own 
house that West was drugged, and from 
that house he was carried back to his own 
apartment, where the evidence had 
already been prepared that was to send 
him to the gallows.” 

"Who killed Captain Morse?” 

"I believe the murderer has already 
paid the penalty,” replied Sudh Hafiz. 

"You mean it was Moroni?” 

"In all probability. Well, what is the 
situation now? The gang believe that 
they have Moore at their mercy. He has 
determined to kill them — that is to say, 
Gus Walstein, the Democratic boss of 


XUa 0toi7 began in WBIBD XAIiES for July 


244 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


245 , 



Caimonville, and Abner Wells, the silk- 
stocking district’s candidate for mayor 
last fall. Moroni is already gone.” 

"But — but how — assuming what you 
suggest is correct, how could a phantom 
kill Moroni?” asked Don. "And why 
should West, who was sent to his deatli 
by Godfrey Moore, as you claim, oblige 
him by killing off all the participants in 
the conspiracy?” 

"I shall answer your last question 
first,” replied the Persian, giving the 
wheel a twist as the car wabbled danger- 
ously near the sucking mud beside the 
causeway. "I likened West to a bull in a 
china shop, and that is a good simile. He 
passed out of this life — I know it, for I 
was with him toward tlie last — burning 
with hatred toward the men who had 
railroaded him. A simple soul, not bad, 
but primitive, and with all primitive 
man’s loves and hatreds. 

"Now he finds himself in a place of 


darkness. He does not know just what 
has happened to him. But he sees a light, 
and struggles toward it. This light is his 
daughter, Loma, who draws him by her 
love for him. He manages, in the clumsy 
way of the newly dead, to take posses- 
sion of her ” 

"Ah!” exclaimed Don. 

"You saw the transformation of her 
face? Well, my friend, that very hatred 
that he feels toward all his former asso- 
ciates enables him to materialize a phan- 
tom that strangles Moroni.” 

"And why not Moore?” 

"Moore knows how to protect himself. 
West is striking out blindly. Our task 
is to bring West to an understanding of 
his situation, to bid him direct his powers 
intelligently; in short, to make an ally of 
him.” 

Don fell silent, while the car, leaving 
the swamp, began to take the toad back 
through the pine forests. 


246 


WEIRD TALES 


"Why didn’t Moore attempt some 
trickery against us?’’ asked Don suddenly. 

"Moore is not omnipotent. He had 
achieved his purpose — which, I may say, 
I should have prevented had I foreseen 
his object. He scored a decided victory 
over me in that. And he knows how to 
bide his time.” 

"I wish I’d insisted on taking Lorna 
with me,” Don blurted out. 

"It could not have been done. But she 
will never come to any harm at Moore’s 
hands.” 

"Why not?” 

"Some day I’ll tell you,” answered 
Sudh Hafiz. 

T he car ran on. Don was revtrfving 
it all over in his mind. Of course 
Hafiz was cracked. And yet, Don had 
seen too much that night to be any 
longer an imcompromising materialist. 
Trickery the whole thing might have 

been, must have been, and yet 

Suppose Moroni had died of a sudden 
heart attack, how could Moore have pro- 
jected the phantom from the radio? And 
how could materialism explain the vision 
he had seen on board the ship, repeated in 
every detail in that room? He was 
aroused by Sudh Hafiz’s voice. The Per- 
sian spoke hesitantly, almost timidly. 

"When I told you I believed that 
Moroni was the murderer of Captain 
Morse, I was not entirely frank with you, 
Wentworth,” he said. "As a matter of 
fact, it was Moroni who prepared the 
stage effects in West’s apartment, the 
circumstantial evidence that condemned 
him. It was not his hand that struck the 
blow.” 

"Whose, then?” asked Don. 

"It was Lemuel West’s,” answered 
Hafiz. 

"What? You mean that Senator West 
actually was the murderer?” 


"Not consciously. Not willingly. West 
was on intimate terms with Moore. In a 
moment of confidence — and even a man 
like Moore has his weaknesses — ^he had 
aroused West’s interest in the Black Art. 
One of the tests of a Master, the first 
test that is required, is the ability to sqja- 
rate the astral double from the physical 
body. West had permitted Moore to 
hypnotize him and to withdraw his astral. 
Little by little Moore gained sufficient 
control over West to be able to dispatch 
his double on errands, to force it to obey 
his will unquestioningly. It is my belief 
that on the night of the tragedy, while 
West was in a drugged sleep at Moore’s 
house, Moore sent his astral to murder 
Captain Morse.” 

"With a gavel?” asked Don incredu- 
lously. 

"Have you ever sat at an amateur 
seance and seen a table smashed to pieces 
by the psychic powers about you?” 

'Tve heard of such things, but ” 

"The astral counterpart possesses 
strength such as no human being is 
capable of. West’s double smashed 
Morse’s skull to pieces. ’Ihe gavel was 
part of the evidence manufactured by 
Moroni.” 

Again Don fell into silence, but now 
he was conscious of a definite resentment 
against the Persian, as we feel resentment 
against those who endeavor to shake us 
out of our preconceived ideas. He said 
not another word until the car drew up 
outside Sudh Hafiz’s house. 

"You’ll be my guest tonight?” 

"No, I’m much obliged,” answered 
Don, "but I think I’ll go to a hotel. I 
want to mull over all this business.” 

"As you please, Westworth. Of course 
there may be an inquest, but I don’t think 
so, and you’re not likely to be called upon. 
It looks like a simple case of death from 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


247 


heart disease. May I ask what you are 
planning to do?” 

"I think Walstein and Abner Wells 
should be warned somehow,” said Don. 

"It wouldn’t do the slightest good. 
You would simply get yourself in trouble. 
Remember, this town is sewed up tight 
politically, and Godfrey Moore runs it. 
G)me and see me before you do anything.” 

He spoke in Persian to the lad who had 
appeared, and the lad ran back into the 
house and returned with Don’s suitcase. 

"I beg of you to do nothing until we 
have had the opportunity of a further 
chat,” continued Sudh Hafiz. "As for a 
hotel, there’s a good one, the Parmclee, 
just around the corner on the right. May 
I drive you there?” 

"No, thanks. I’ll walk,” Don answered. 
"I need a breath of air.” 

"I think,” said Sudh Hafiz deliberately, 
"that you may receive an important ’phone 
call in the morning. If you require a car, 
please call on my services. No taxi driver 
would take you out to Moore’s place for 
any amount of money.” 

D on slept not at all that night, but 
then he had no desire to sleep. The 
events that had happened since his arrival 
at Cannonville, hitherto an unassimilated 
mass, gradually began to assume coherence 
In his mind during the long night watch. 
And tlie result was a decided hardening 
against Sudh Hafiz. 

But that the Persian had been the means 
of bringing him to Lorna, Don would 
have felt an even deeper resentment 
against hkn. He was, in fact, at the part- 
ing of the ways. Either he had to swallow 
everything that Sudh Hafiz had told him, 
or else he must reject the supernatural 
element in toto. And, like most men in 
his position, he chose the latter course. 

He succeeded in convincing himself, 


before morning, that the picture he had 
seen on the radio was the result of an 
overwrought brain, that the year of 
brooding over Lorna, and the shock of 
reading of her father’s execution, must 
have produced visual hallucinations. 

But he was sane enough now, he told 
himself, as he looked from the window of 
his bedroom at the street, with its bright 
lights, and the winking electric signs in 
the amusement district a few blocks away. 

Sane enough to make his plans. These 
centered, for the present, exclusively 
about Lorna. To hunt down the men 
who had sent Lemuel West to his death, 
and clear her name — ^that was secondary, 
but first he resolved to get Lorna out of 
an environment which, he was convinced, 
was retarding her recovery. He did not 
altogether trust Godfrey Moore, and he 
did not believe that Lorna was getting 
the right sort of treatment in his home. 

He determined to go out again in the 
morning and see Lorna, and ask her to 
become his wife. She had promised to 
marry him as soon as he returned from 
Qiina. Even if she was mentally ill, who 
had a stronger right than he to undertake 
the task of caring for her? 

With which resolution, Don lit a pipe 
and waited for the coming of dawn. 

It came at last, and Don had a good 
hot bath, shaved, and dressed. He was 
feeling pretty fit, in spite of the night’s 
experiences. He was about to go down 
to breakfast when his telephone rang. 

"’This is Godfrey Moore,” came the 
voice. "How are you after last night’s dis- 
tressing experience, Wentworth?” 

"I’m feeling about as well as could be 
expected,” answered Don. 

"'That’s good. Well, I’m phoning you 
about Lorna. I’m sorry to say she’s had 
rather a bad relapse. In fact, I had my 
physician out here soon after you left, 
and he thinks she should be removed to 


248 


WEIRD TALES 


some institution where Ae can have com- 
plete rest.” 

"When do you propose to move her?” 
queried Don. 

'Tve already engaged a room for her 
at the State Institution for the Insane,” 
came Moore’s voice in bland tones. 

Don was horrified. "A public institu- 
tion?” he demanded. 

“Yes, and an excellent one. I am c«ie 
of the governing body.” 

"I’d like to see her — and you — first.” 

"By all means, my dear fellow. Come 
out as soon as you like; in fact, the soon- 
er the better. I’ve already arranged for a 
nurse to come out here and take her away 
on the afternoon train.” 

A ll Don’s resentment against Sudli 
1 . Hafiz had disappeared with this 
conversation. His fears for Lorna rose 
paramount. He snatched a mouthful of 
breakfast and hurried round to the Per- 
sian’s house, where he found Sudh Hafiz 
smoking a cigarette over the morning 
paper. Something in the man’s manner 
indicated to Don that he had been await- 
ing him. 

Don recounted the telephone conversa- 
tion. "I can’t imderstand it,” he said. 
"Apparently he proposes to wash his 
hands of her, since he’s sending her to a 
public institution. Of course I won’t tol- 
erate It. I’ve got a few thousand put by, 
and I’m going right out to ask her to 
marry me. Do you think I’ll have any 
trouble with Moore?” 

"I should say not the slightest,” 
answered Sudh Hafiz. "In fact, I think he 
was just baiting a hook to get you to do 
exactly that.” 

"You mean you think he wants me to 
marry her?” asked Don. 

"I think he wants to get her — and you 
— out of his immediate course. Godfrey 
Moore is playing a shrewd game, and like 


all the best strategists, he doesn’t believe 
in taking on too many adversaries at 
once.” 

"I’m going right out there. I remem- 
bered your kind offer of a car. By the 
way, you seemed to anticipate my receiv- 
ing an important telephone call.” 

"Yes,” smiled the Persian in his enig- 
matic way. Don knew it was useless to 
question him. 

"1 may as well admit to you tlrat last 
night I ” he began. 

"My dear sir, it is unnecessary to tell 
me that! You Westerners have not the 
Oriental faculty of keeping the face from 
expressing the thoughts. And you stiil 
believe that I am — ^may I say unhinged?” 

"Frankly, I don’t know what I be- 
lieve,” answered Don. "All I want is to 
get Lorna out of Godfrey Moore’s 
clutches.” 

"And I don’t anticipate the slightest 
difficulty, as I was saying,” answered 
Hafiz. "I can start with you right away.” 

'Three minutes later the two were again 
on the road running out toward the house. 
About half-way, however, a strange 
vehicle appeared among the trees, coming 
in their direction. It turned out to be a 
motor-hearse. Sudh Hafiz slowed down 
and signalled the driver to stop. 

"You’ve got Mr. Moroni’s body in- 
side?” he asked. 

"Yep, got a call a coupla hours ago. 
’The coroner was there and said there 
didn’t need to be no inquest since it was 
a case of heart disease. But say, I 
wouldn’t trust myself in that there 
ha’nted house at night for all the money 
in the world. I seen a feller killed by 
ha’nts once before, and he looked jest 
like Moroni — fleck of foam on his lips 
and all the horrors of hell in his eyes. 
Yep, and, between you and me, heart 
disease don’t leave finger-prints on the 
throat. But it ain’t my business, and I 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


249 


ain’t interferin’. I’m jest tellin’ you, Mr. 
Halffish, because my wife goes to your 
temple.” 

'Td keep it strictly to yourself, if I 
were you,” said . Sudh Hafiz, and the 
driver nodded and started the hearse 
again. 

D on had queer premonitions of dis- 
aster long before the house came 
into sight, so that it was almost a shock 
to him to see it standing just as it had 
been on the night before. Hafiz drew 
up at the door, and rang the bell. But 
the peal, which could be heard within the 
house, elicited no answer. He rang again 
with like result, and looked at Don as if 
in perplexity. 

"We’ve got to get in,” said Don, look- 
ing about him. He saw that one of the 
windows on the ground floor was not 
quite closed, and that a solid trunk of 
creeper tan upward past the sill. He set 
foot on it and quickly scrambled up, 
Sudh Hafiz following him. 

It was only the work of a moment to 
push the window up and drop to the 
floor inside. The two found themselves 
k a pantry, with the kitchen leading ofl 
it. Tliey hurried through and saw the 
series of drawing-rooms in front of them. 

A faint groaning became audible. Don 
ran through the blue velvet portieres. On 
the floor of the room in which they had 
sat the evening before lay Godfrey 
Moore. He was tightly trussed and 
gagged, but his eyes were open, and 
from the violent attempts to free himself 
that he was making, it did not seem that 
his injuries were very serious ones. 

Don pulled out a pocket-knife and 
slashed the gag over his mouth, and God- 
frey Moore instantly became violently 
vocal. 

"Where’s Loma?” cried Don. 

’’Gone!” spluttered Godfrey. "He took 


her with him, that poor insane girl. He 
most have been mad himself to dare at- 
tempt this outrage!” 

"Who?” 

"WTio? Gu 6 Walstein, the political 
boss of Cannonville, and one of Lemuel 
West’s most intimate associates. I’ll show 
him who’s got more power here. 
I’ll ” 

"Where has he taken her? What does 
he mean to do with her?” cried Don, 
while Sudh Hafiz took the pocket-knife 
from his hand and began cutting at th'e 
table<over which, ripped into strips, had 
been used to truss up Moore very effi- 
ciently. "Tell me what happened, quick!” 

"Gus Walstein came here about an 
hour ago. He’d heard of Moroni’s sud- 
den death last night, and he believed Mo- 
roni had been carrying certain papers that 
would implicate Walstein in the murder 
of Captain Morse, and that I’d got hold 
of them. He knows I’ve been at work 
ever since the trial trying to bring Gus 
Walstein to justice. I know his was the 
guiding hand behind that murder,” con- 
tinued Moore, his old glibness of speech 
rapidly returning to him. 

"He came here just after the coroner 
and the hearse-driver had left. Mu^ have 
been waiting for them to go. He threat- 
ened me with death unless I gave 
those papers. I told him I’d ^en no 
papers from Moroni, and that I wouldn’t 
give them up if I had. Then he struck 
me over the head with some blunt in- 
strument, and half stunned me.” 

Don glanced at Godfrey Moore’s head, 
but saw no signs of any contusions; still 
that proved nothing. 

"Tell me about Lorna,” he said, trying 
to keep his voice steady. 

"She came into the room half -dazed. 
I was barely conscious, and Walstein was 
going through my pockets. He seemed 
desperate, and when he saw her, I tblok 


250 


WEIRD TALES 


he got some sort of idea that she knew 
where the papers were, or else he may 
have thought he was holding her as a 
hostage, or to prevent her giving evidence 
that he had attacked me. He may have 
thought I was dead, and, anyway, he was 
not in the frame of mind to reason. 

"He took her away with him, and she 
made no resistance. Poor girl, she’s been 
little more than an automaton since that 
unfortunate aflfair last night.’’ 

"Where’s his place, his home, his 
hangout?” shouted Don. 

"You won’t find him in any of those 
places. But I can guess where he’s gone. 
Mike Moroni had a place at the head of 
the creek, an old trapper’s cabin in the 
marshes that he rebuilt and used in his 
rum-running operations. I think he’s 
gone there to ransack it.” 

"I know it,” said Sudh Hafiz. 

"But it’s no use following him there. 
Walstein’s desperate. More than likely 
he’s brought some of his gang with him. 
'They’ll shoot without hesitation.” 

By this time Sudh Hafiz had got God- 
frey Moore free of his bonds. The mil- 
lionaire got up stiffly, rubbing his head. 
"I’ll ’phone the police,” he said, "and 
have the place surrounded. ’They’ll be 
out here in a couple of hours at 
most ” 

"I think not,” answered Don decisively. 
"I’m going to get Loma, and every min- 
ute is important.” 

"If you could save her, poor girl! The 
nurse will be out here for her this after- 
noon. It will be a terrible weight off my 
mind if I can turn her over to her un- 
harmed.” 

"Loma is not going to be turned over 
to any nurse, or sent to any institution,” 
said Don, speaking as calmly as he could. 
"We’ve been engaged nearly two years, 
and she promised to marry me as soon as 
I returned from Qiina. If I am fortunate 


enough to get her out of Gus Walstein’s 
clutches, Tm going to take her straight 
into Guinonville and marry her.” 

Godfrey Moore’s eyes lit up. "You 
mean that, Wentworth?” he cried eagerly. 

"You don’t intend to offer any objec- 
tion?” 

"Not the least in the world. It will be 
the only possible solution of the problem 
about her, for I have felt my own re- 
sponsibilities very keenly. I congratulate 
you on your fine sense of honor, Went- 
worth.” 

"I love her,” answered Don simply, 
but thawing under Moore’s praise, de- 
spite his suspicions of the man, which 
had been growing steadily. 

"But let me ’phone the police any- 
way,” persisted the millionaire. "You 
are running up against a desperate gang 
— two gangs, Walstein’s and Moroni’s. 
No? But are you armed? I have a re- 
volver in my desk which Walstein over- 
looked.” 

He crossed the room and, pressing a 
secret spring somewhere in the large ma- 
hogany desk, opened a drawer and took 
out a handy-looking forty-five revolver, 
which he placed in Don’s hands. 

"It’s loaded in every chamber,” he 
said. "I wish you better luck than I had 
with Walstein. I shall await the first news 
from you with the greatest anxiety.” 

“T T IS only about four miles from here,” 
• 1 - said Sudh Hafiz, as they got into the 
car. "But this road ends a mile farther 
on, and we shall probably have to walk. 
There is only a trail along the shore. 
Don’t be alarmed for her, Wentworth. 
Of course you see now that the whole 
business was a fake?” 

"I got the idea that Moore tied him- 
self up, or had some one tie him up de- 
liberately,” answered Don. "But I don’t 
yet see ” 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


251 


"More than that. Moore sent Loma 
West with Walstein, and she accom- 
panied him because, as Moore said, she 
was in a condition of automatism. Wal- 
stein was the dupe. Moore sent her under 
some pretext that would be very accepta- 
ble to Walstein, who appreciates the com- 
pany of a pretty woman. But he won’t 
dare harm her. Just keep cool, and we’ll 
save her. I think I Imow which way 
Moore’s mind is working. Only keep 
cool, Wentworth — remember last night 
and keep cool, whatever happens.” 

"But what was Moore’s purpose?” 

"Walstein,” replied the Persian, "is 
the second of the trio whom Moore has 
marked for death, and only a miracle can 
save him now. Certainly I could not if I 
would, for the forces that Godfrey Moore 
has set in motion can not be stayed.” 

There was an intense solemnity in the 
Persian’s manner of speaking that almost 
convinced Don in spite of himself. 

"You mean that Loma is taking Wal- 
stein to his death?” he asked. 

"Yes, but not consciously. She is a 
mere agent of the Evil Powers.” 

"Once I get her in my hands, I’ll never 
let her go again,” said Don. "All this is 
enigmatic to me. How many men do you 
suppose we shall meet at Moroni’s 
place?” 

"It makes no difference; you shall get 
Loma West back unharmed if you will 
be guided by me,” answered Sudh Hafiz. 

Don sat beside him in silence. It was 
impossible to believe in Sudh Hafiz’s 
prophecies, and yet they had an uncanny 
knack of being fulfilled. He took refuge 
from bis doubts in thoughts of Loma. 
To save her, make her his wife, restore 
her reason — that was all that mattered 
hnmediately, and the rest could wait. 

"Will you tell me why you think 
Moore told us where Walstein was to be 


found, and why he gave me this gun?” 
he asked suddenly. 

Sudh Hafiz shrugged bis shoulders. 
"He knows you are to be his most power- 
ful enemy,” he answered. "Therefore, to 
send you against Walstein, and to send 
you armed, is a mere matter of poUcy. 
If either of you kills the other, be is that 
much better off. There is nothing deep or 
esoteric in that.” 

The end of the concrete road came sud- 
denly into view. Beyond it was a mere 
track, winding along the shore, an im- 
passable muddy trail, so far as the car was 
concerned. There was a circle of con- 
aete for turning on, and Sudh Hafiz 
rounded it and parked the machine fadng 
in the direction of Ginnonville. 

"We’re in for a brisk walk — ^and a 
brisk shower, I think,” he said, glancing 
up at the sky. 

T he mud was ankle-deep. After they 
had proceeded a hundred yards or 
80 Don stopped suddenly. "Walstein 
never brought Lorna this way this morn- 
ing,” he said. "There arc no footprints 
in front of us. Besides, where did he 
leave his car?” 

"We passed his car returning to Can- 
nonville just after leaving,” answered the 
Persian. "It was empty, save for the 
driver. Evidently he sent it back. 'There- 
fore he must have gone to Moroni’s place 
in Godfrey Moore’s gasoline launch, 
which, as a matter of fact, I did not sec 
in its usual place on the sea-front,” he 
concluded, smiling. "Forgive me, Went- 
worth, but I saw no reason to trouble you 
with all these details. We’ll find them at 
Moroni’s place. I hope they’re there by 
now, for the girl’s sak^ for this lodb 
more like a storm than a .shower,” he 
added. 

As he spoke, the whips of the rain be- 
gan to lash them. An immense dark thun- 


252 


WEIRD TALES 


dercloud rolled muttering overhead- The 
stinging rain became almost a cloudburst, 
and it grew steadily in violence. In a few 
moments Don and Hafiz were soaked to 
the skin. 

The wind roared from the sea, driving 
it in great breakers upon the flats, and 
sending showers of drenching spray 
across the road, which here ran close to 
the water’s edge. The two men shivered 
as they trudged through the muddy 
swamp. It was almost as dark as mid- 
night. 

*'I hope they’ve not been caught out at 
sea in this storm,” said Don. 

"The sea hasn’t had time to grow 
tough yet,” answered Sudh Hafiz. "And 
there’s the creek,” he added, pointing to 
an inlet beyond a headland. 

'They ascended it steadily, the wind 
growing worse as they advanced. At the 
top they were hardly able to keep their 
feet, so violent was the gale. But the 
darkness was slowly dissipating, and, 
looking down, they could see the cabin 
at the head of the creek, which was filled 
with dark, churning, oily water, and the 
motor-launch drawn up beside it, as well 
as a larger vessel, evidently used by Mo- 
roni in his rum-running expeditions. 

A trail led down from the headland 
toward the cabin? which was fringed at 
the rear with a repulsive-looking low 
scrub. 

"I think we’d best keep under cover of 
that,” said Don, pointing. "No need to 
advertise our approach, and it’s getting 
light.” 

Sudh Hafiz agreed. They left the trail 
and made their way toward the cabin by 
a circuitous route among the great boul- 
ders that studded the sides of the head- 
land. In a little while they had reached 
the scrub, and found a trail running 
through it in the direction of the cabin. 
The darkness had now become a sort of 


twilight; the violence of the storm had 
ceased, but the rain still fell in sheets. 

A light was shining through the single 
window in the rear of the cabin, as if 
from a candle. There was a rear door, 
too, and silhouetted against the panes, the 
two could see the shadows of men — sev- 
eral men, who seemed to be gesticulating 
violently. 

Creeping out of the scrub up to the 
rear door, Don and Sudh Hafiz stood, 
the former fingering the revolver that 
Godfrey Moore had given him. Through 
the ill-fitting door they could hear every 
word that was spoken within. 

"You leave the girl alone,” rumbled a 
man’s bass voice. "Dummy.? Yeah, and 
she ain’t pretendin’, neither. Godfrey 
said for to take her down into the base- 
ment and she’ll maybe git a spark of rea- 
son there, seein’ she follered Moroni 
there that night to try to git him to save 
her dad. That’s what drove her bug- 
house. Godfrey says it’s the only chance 
to git her to remember what she knows, 
to put her in the same place as where she 
got the shock.” 

"Shock? How come shock?” asked an- 
other voice with a sneer. 

"Wasn’t it a shock to the girl when she 
caught Moroni sortin’ out his papers, and 
he refused to help save her dad’s life? 
He’d have killed her then and there if 
Godfrey hadn’t been trailin’ him. ’That’s 
what Godfrey told me anyways, but he’s a 
slick liar. However, we’re goin’ to search 
this basement from end to end.” 

"And s’posin’ we say you ain’t?” asked 
a third voice. "Unless you come across 
with a coupla grand each.” 

’The answer came in an inaudible snarl. 
Don knew that this speaker must be Wal- 
stein, and whatever he said, it seemed to 
beat down the other’s opposition eflFec- 
tively, for the reply came in a grudging 
whisper of assent 'There seemed to be 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


253 


four men within the cabin, two of them 
apparently Walstein and one of his aides 
from town, while the two others were 
evidently part of Moroni’s crew of rum- 
runners. 

"Smart idea of Moroni’s, diggin’ this 
basement for his stock,’’ came Walstein’s 
voice. "Nobody’ d guess there was a con- 
crete foundation under this mud. Cus- 
toms guys wouldn’t find it in a score of 
years.’’ 

’The candle flickered. Walstein’s steps 
could be heard as he moved about inside 
the hut, and he was evidently carrying 
the candle, for it changed its position as 
he moved. 

"See there, Benny," he said to his as- 
sistant. "Now who in hell would guess 
there was a flight of steps behind this 
plank.? Moroni had a head on him. Pity 
he croaked last night.” 

"Croaked.?” grinned the other. "You’re 
woozy, Mr. Walstein. "Croaked? Yeah, 
but who croaked him? ’That Godfrey 
Moore is a damn sight too slick for my 
taste. Why didn’t he come with us? You 
took his word for it that there wasn’t no 
papers on Moroni. It’s my belief he 
croaked him somehow, and he’s gettin’ 
away with the goods.” 

"Listen,” growled Walstein, "Godfrey 
knows if anything happened to me I got 
evidence enough to put him where West 
went. Savvy? He wouldn’t have sent me 
here on a fool’s errand imless he was 
aimin’ to croak me. And who’s goin’ to 
croak me here? 'Them two bums over 
there? Hey, you two, get down the stairs, 
and we’ll follow you, and if you got any 
fancy stunts roamin’ round in your heads, 
fergit them!” 

'The voices faded, as if the four were 
going down into the basement. When 
all was silent, Don put his hand on the 
door. But Sudh Hafiz stopped him. 

"Take care,” he whispered. ”1 do not 


like this. I can not rely on ambuscades, 
or my powers go. I do not know — it is 
all misty ” 

Don, without answering him, opened 
the door quietly and stepped inside. It 
was all dark, and his first impression was 
that the upper floor of the cabin was 
empty. 

’Then a step sounded close beside him, 
and, as he whirled, a figure leaped at him 
out of the darkness. He felt the violent 
impact of some weapon upon his head. 
He tried to raise his revolver, but his 
hand was powerless, ,and he went plung- 
ing down into darkness. 

H ow long Don was out he bad no 
idea, but it could not have been veiy 
long. He came back to himself with a 
racking pain in his head, to find himself 
tied up with ropes, and seated in a comer 
of a cellar. Not far away was Sudh Hafiz, 
similarly tied. Four men were in the cel- 
lar, two of whom were searching among 
a heap of papers at the foot of an over- 
turned desk, by the light of the candle. 
The two others were lounging sullenly 
near. 

And then Don saw Loma. She was 
seated in a chair, unbound, her ej'es star- 
ing in front of her, as lifeless as if she 
had been a waxen figure. 

"So you’re snappin’ out of it, huh?” 
asked one of the two loungers, speaking 
with an Italian accent, and coming up to 
Don. 

It was easy to distinguish the two as 
the late Moroni’s assistants, while Wal- 
stein was self-evident in the burly form 
in the flashy suit snarling over the papers. 
The man beside him was a flash city 
crook, evidently his aide. The farther end 
of the cellar was stocked with cases. 

"Snappin’ out, are they?” jeered Wal- 
stein, rising and coming toward Don. "I 
reckon I know you, Mister Wentworth. 


234 


WEIRD TALES 


Snoopin’ on me, huh? Whadya expect to 
find? Who yuh workin’ for — Godfrey 
Moore? Or mebbe you heard your broad 
had taken a fancy to me and come here 
with me, huh?” 

He kicked Don savagely in the side 
with his heavy shoe, and shook his fist in 
Don’s face. 

"Listen, bo! You and the dago parson 
have got just about half an hour to live. 
I’m holdin’ you till I’ve gone through 
Moroni’s papers, in case I’m goin’ to need 
you. But don’t bank on diat. Moroni’s 
dead, and this place is goin’ to be your 
tomb. And these two fellers are goin' to 
help croak you, so there won’t be no one 
to give evidence. And that goes for you, 
too,” he said, kicking Sudh Hafiz in the 
ribs. 

"Don’t be too sure, Mr. Walstein,” an- 
swered the Persian in an even voice. 
"Sometimes the wisest of us are mis- 
taken.” 

Walstein raised his foot again with an 
oath, looked into Sudh Hafiz’s face, and 
set it down again. Cursing, he turned 
away. 

"Let's get this business over, Benny,” 
he said to his assistant. "Gimme a drink, 
some one!” 

One of the two rum-runners ran to an 
open case and pulled out a bottle. He 
dexterously knocked off the glass rim at 
the top without uncorking it, and handed 
it to Walstein, who took a deep drink. 
Each of the others drank in turn, the last 
emptying the bottle and flinging it against 
the wall, breaking it in pieces. Walstein 
and Benny resumed their task, while the 
two others, lounging by the wall, began 
to chatter in Italian. 

'The little Eght of the candle Clarely 
illuminated the vault. Outside its periph- 
ery, all was shadow. Don, stating at 
Lofoa, could hardly see her face. She 


seemed in a state of profound uncon- 
sdousnass. 

He was quietly working at the ropes 
that bound him. Tight as they were, he 
had managed to relax them sufficiently to 
get his fingers about what seemed to be 
the main knot. But he was still partly 
paralyzed by the blow upon the head that 
he had received, and was perforce com- 
pelled to desist until he could gather a 
little more of his strength. 

He sat there, trying to pull himself to- 
gether. But suddenly a gasp came from 
his lips. Something was happening to 
Loma. Her face, her form, were growing 
misty. 

A CRY of exultation broke from Wal- 
stein’s lips as, after looking through 
and tossing aside paper after paper, he 
held one close up to the candle-flame. 

"Benny, I got something!” he shouted. 
"Here’s Godfrey Moore’s signature to 
that note to Abner Wells! 'That’ II hold 
the feller for a time!” 

He laid the paper aside with two or 
three others that he had selected, and feU 
to work with renewed haste. But Don’s 
eyes were fixed on Lorna. A faint, lam- 
bent light was beginning to play about 
her features, a light that appeared to be 
invisible to the two Italians close beside 
her, for they were chattering to each other 
and glancing malevolently at Walstein 
and Benny, sorting the papers on the 
floor. 

By that light Don could see, to his hor- 
ror, a singular and fearful change pro- 
ceeding. Lorna seemed to be awaking 
from her sleep or trance. But it was like 
the awaking of a dead person. It was 
like a corpse coming back to life. 

Slowly her q^elids were unclosing. 
Slowly the vacant lo<^ of the features was 
vanishing. And slowly there came an ex- 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


255 


presslon on the face. And, as on the 
night before in Moore’s drawing-room, a 
mask of hatred was spreading over the 
sweet countenance — a mask of such 
abominable hatred that Don shuddered 
at the sight of it. And again, as before, 
the features were slowly and in some in- 
explicable way taking on the lineaments 
of the face of Lemuel West, as Don re- 
membered it! 

It was the most terrific metamorphosis 
that Don had ever seen. It made him for- 
get his bonds, his danger, and he could 
only crouch where he was and watch that 
awful change that was taking place in the 
woman he loved. 

He believed now! He belie^'ed every- 
thing that Sudh Hafi2 had told him. In 
that moment all his preconceptions, all his 
materialism broke down in the light of 
sturuiing reality. 

That look on Lorna’s face would have 
appalled the bravest man who ever lived. 
And yet none of the four seemed to see 
what was happening. They could not 
even see the steady blm'sh glow that threw 
the girl’s face into clear relief. 

Only the Persian, Sudh Hafiz, saw it, 
and he conveyed this knowledge by the 
faintest gesture as he half turned his face 
toward Don’s for a moment. 

But another change was taking place 
in Loma, for her outlines were growing 
momentarily more hazy. A swirling mist 
seemed to be enveloping her. It was coil- 
ing up from her face, from her body, 
eddying and revolving in front of her and 
above her, illumined by that same lam- 
bent light. And still none of tlie four 
was aware of it. It was incredible, but 
it was true. 

The mist was thickening, condensing. 
It was gradually assuming the shape of a 
huge egg, swaying and rotating in front 
of the girl. The egg bisected into two 


imequal parts. From the upper and lower 
part respectively there issued two projec- 
tions that became ill-defined arms and 
legs. 

'Hie mist was assiuning human form 
— it was becoming a man — the form of 
the dead man, Lemuel West! 

Don bit his tongue to keep from cry- 
ing out in his horror as the figure of 
West became momentarily more clearly 
defined. It faced Loma. Not flesh, and 
yet not phantom, but more phantom than 
flesh. A tenuous outline, a stealthy 
shadow that was gradually assuming per- 
sonality, awaking to life as Lorna once 
more relapsed into trance, drawing upon 
her vitality to give itself fictitious exist- 
ence. 

Lorna’s face relaxed. It became placid, 
gentle. The look of hatred that she had 
worn was now transferring itself to the 
face of the phantom. 'There stood Lemuel 
West, the very incarnation of evil pas- 
sions, his hands clenched, his head lolling 
crookedly upon his shoulder. On Lorna’s 
face was now the waxen mask of sleep, 
or trance — or death. She had sunk ba^ 
into her chair. 

Now Don could see what looked like 
a thick band of radiant light connecting 
the bodies of father and daughter. 'The 
phantom bobbed and swayed, and with 
each movement the cord seemed to be 
elongated. It was beginning to thin at 
the middle. It waned to the thinness of 
a hair. It snapped, and the phantom 
floated free. 

Lemuel West st<x)d before his daugh- 
ter. Don could see the glowing eyes of 
the phantom fixed on her pale face, and 
for just an instant the look of hatred 
seemed to change to one of pity or love. 
And in that moment the phantom’s out- 
lines seemed to shrink, and Loma stirred 
and faintly smiled. 

But the next moment Lemuel West 


256 


WEIRD TALES 


stood there again, the same lodk of hate 
upon his face, and Lorna had subsided 
into her death-like trance once more. 

Lemuel West turned slowly in the 
direction of the two men who were sort- 
ing papers upon the floor. At that mo- 
ment Gus Waktein raised his head, 
locked straight at the phantom — and saw 
nothing. 

"Well, we’re almost through. Hey, 
you two dagoes, bring some more drink!’’ 
he shouted drunkenly. 

One of the two Italians began moving 
toward the broken case that contained the 
whisky-bottles. He toc^ another bottle 
«)d brought it badk to Walstein. And he 
walked straight through the phantom 
and never saw it! 

G us WAtsTEiN raised the bottle to his 
lips, tilted back his head, and todc a 
tong drink. He handed it to Benny. 

"Well, we ain’t got all we want, but 
we got something,’’ he shouted. "Le’s go 
through this last pile, and then we’ll fix 
drem two butters-in here!’’ 

He reeled, and again squatted down 
on the floor, sorting the last batch of 
Moroni’s papers by the light of the candle. 

It was burning low, and the long, red- 
tipped wick sent up a wavering flame and 
a stench of grease. *It broke off, leaving 
only a tiny fragment in the tallow, to 
which the little flame clung, trying to re- 
establish itself. 'The cellar was almost 
dark. 

Don saw the two Italians looking 
malevolently At Walstein and his com- 
panion. He saw ffie specter raise its hand 
and point toward them. One of the two 
men raised his head, and his hand 
dropped to his belt. 

Waktein cursed at the darkness. Still 
neither he nor any of the others seemed 
aware rff the shadow flitting to and fro 


between them, like a bobbin on a loom, 
as if weaving some fearful net that was 
to entrap them. Yet it had come into 
clea.ter relief against the darkness, as if it 
were darker than the darkness. 

And now, straining his horrified eyes, 
Don watched Lemuel West gaining 
strength and power. At first he bad 
crouched and swayed, like a man seeking 
to gain his foothold. Then a succession 
of tremors had run through the shadowy 
form, and all at once it had grown vigor- 
ous, vital, gprilla-like. And Loma’s body 
had become still more shrunken, until 
she looked like a child — like the waxen 
effigy of a child. 

Lemuel West was advancing toward 
Walstein with clenched fists. Now he was 
standing immediately behind him, one 
arm upraked. Walstein looked up. 

"Well, that finishes the pile, Benny,’’ 
he said. "Br-r-r, it’s cold here!” 

The arm fell. Walstein yelped, stag- 
gered to his feet, and stood swaying and 
clutching at bis heart. 

"They got me^ Benny!” he yelled. "Get 
them, the s!” 

Quick as a flash the man Benny 
whirled, gun in hand. ’The roar of the 
discharge followed, and one of the two 
Italians screeched and stumbled forward, 
recovered himself, and whipped out a 
knife. He and his companion flung them- 
selves upon Benny. 

Walstein had got a gun from his 
pocket. He fired, but the bullet went 
wild, and the next moment the four were 
engaged in a desperate mel6e, while 
behind them stood the phantom, arm still 
upraised, a leer upon its shadowy face. 

Yelling and cursing, the four strug- 
gled to and fro, a murder-knot that twined 
and unfastened, disclosing knives that 
flashed in the candle-light and guns that 
roared and sent up coils of aaid smoke. 

W. T.— 7 


THE PHANTOM HAND 


257 


Benny’s gun spoke three times in quick 
succession, and one of the Italians 
dropped, half his face blown away. But 
the next instant his companion’s knife 
flashed, and Benny dropped, a fearful, 
gaping wound in his chest. 

Moaning like a wounded dog, he rolled 
over and over until he came to rest at 
Don’s feet. He looked up at him, his 
features twisted in a spasm of fearful, 
baffling hate and fear, and died. 

Walstein and the second Italian were 
locked in a death struggle, each trying 
to get a grip on the other’s hand, and 
both bleeding from half a dozen wounds. 
Don saw Wdstein wrench his hand free, 
place the revolver to the Italian’s head, 
and pull the trigger. But the hammer 
fell on an empty cartridge, and the next 
moment the Italian’s knife went home. 

Shrieking like a fiend, Walstein poised 
his great bulk, seized the Italian in his 
arms, ignoring the flashing knife whicli 
struck home again and again, and, with 
the exercise of all his strength, he broke 
the man in two, raised him, and hurled 
the limp, quivering body against the 
wall. It fell thudding to the floor, neck 
and back broken. 

Walstein stood rocking like a giant 
tree about to fall, the blood streaming 
down his body. And suddenly he seemed 
to grow aware of the mocking, leering 
shadow that stood behind him. 

He turned. 'The dead man and the 
dying one glared into each other’s eyes. 
A yell of horror broke from Walstein’s 
lips. 

"You?” he shrieked. "You — you — 
you?” 

The phantom’s lips parted, and it 
seemed to Don as if there passed from 
them some message that he could not 
hear. Walstein’s eyes grew lurid with 
horror, then filmed, and with a crash the 
W. T.— 8 


boss of Cannonville dropped dead among 
the three dead men. 

All the while Don had been working 
intermittently at his bonds. Now he felt 
the knot begin to loosen in his fingers. 
And suddenly, inexplicably, he was free. 
He staggered to his feet. His head was 
reeling, and he could only faintly see the 
outlines of the phantom in the flickering 
candle-light. 

But he saw it turn toward him with 
hate-distorted face, and raise its arm. 
'Then of a sudden the arm dropped, and 
the next moment Lemuel West was no 
longer there, but the swirl of mist was 
again coiling about Loma’s body. 

And Lorna seemed to be growing 
larger. She looked more life-like, too. 
Her features were no longer a waxen 
effigy, and she stirred and sighed. 

D on staggered to the side of Sudh 
Hafiz. The Persian looked up at him 
impassively. Don tried to find ffle knot 
in the cord that bound him, but to his 
amazement saw that he was free. 

Sudh Hafiz smiled and rose to his feet. 
He put out one hand and caught Don 
as he swayed. 

"I would have saved them,” he said, 
"but it would have meant to reverse the 
inexorable workings of divine retribution. 
You believe in me now, Wentworth? 
You’ll work with me to save Lorna, and 
to stamp out this nest of deviltry?” 

"I’ll work with you to the end,” Don 
answered. And he staggered toward 
Lorna and gathered her into his arms. 

She was awake. She sat up in her chair. 
She looked at him, but there was no recog- 
nition in her eyes, which only stai^ 
blankly before her. 

"Don’t you know me, dear?” aked 
Don. "I’ve come to take you away.” 

She rose to her feet ol^diently, but no 


258 


WEIRD TALES 


word came from her lips. Suddenly an 
exclamation broke from Sudh Hafiz. 

"Take care, Wentworth!” he cried. 
"Face them! Walk backward to the door! 
Don’t let them get behind you, and they’ll 
be powerless!” 

Don swung about. By the faint light 
of the candle he could see four swirling 
shapes slowly materializing above the 
bodies of the four dead men. 

"Three of them seemed to hover uncer- 
tainly, as if unable to take form, but the 
fourth had already assumed Walstein’s 
outlines, and was crouching with clenched 
fists, as if about to strike, while the lips 
were drawn back in a bestial snarl. 

Suddenly the thing leaped, and Don 
felt as if he had been plunged into an icy 
bath. He struck at it, and his fist passed 
through the phantom. 

He whirled as it tried to leap behind 
him. Somehow he knew that if it could 
strike from behind he would be dead in 
a moment. He saw Sudh Hafiz at his side. 
He lifted Lorna in his arms. Step by step 
they fought their way backward until 
they reached the cellar entrance. Backing 
to the stairs, the Persian shut the door 
upon the interior. 

"Now make for the open, Wentworth,” 
he shouted. 

« 

A few moments later Don set Lorna 
down outside the cabin and tried to pull 
himself together. 

I T MUST have been hardly later than 
noon, but the same strange, dim twi- 
light hung over land and sea, and sul- 
furous, yellow clouds were heavy in the 
sky. Sudh Hafiz came up to Don. 

'We’re safe for the present,” he said. 
"That was a shrewd stroke of Moore’s, 
but it had small chance of success. Wal- 
stein’s hate might have enabled him to 
strike home, had he had a little experi- 
ence, but you can’t expect a man to be 


able to kill within a few minutes after his 
death. 

"I told you,” he added, seeing Don 
didn’t understand, "that Moore had 
trained West’s double so that it was able 
to travel at will, to obey his commands, 
and even to kill Captain Morse with a 
blow? By the aid of the same infernal 
power he was able to control Walstein’s 
phantom after his death, but Walstein 
had neither the strength nor the knowl- 
edge. We shall meet him again. A dead 
man is more potent for evil than a living 
one. Where are you thinking of taking 
Lorna?” 

"Anywhere away from here,” said Don. 

"You’d better bring her to my house 
for the present. Don’t be alarmed at her 
condition. Once we’ve destroyed that 
viper’s nest, I think she’ll be her old self 
again.” He pointed to the boat. "We 
can pull round the shore to the car,” he 
said, "and be in Cannonville in a couple 
of hours.” 

"Suppose Moore has taken our car?” 

Sudh Hafiz smiled. "He doesn’t work 
that way. He’s thrown the dice, and won 
— and lost. Won, because he got rid of 
Walstein. Lost, because I have the papers 
Walstein had sorted out, and Moore, 
who was an interested spectator of the 
whole proceedings, knows that the issues 
are now fairly joined between us.” 

"Moore — saw?” 

"Yes, that was not difficidt in his 
Akashic Mirror, which shows past, pres- 
ent, and a short way into the future. Of 
w'hich more later. Now, Wentworth, the 
first thing necessary is to get this girl to 
my house, and then we’ll plan our course 
of action.” 

Using the dead Lemuel West as his tool. Godfrey 
Moore has now rid himself of two of his confed- 
erates in crime. Will the third. Abner Wells, share 
their fate? Can Sudh Haflz succeed in winning 
I^muel West to his side, so as to destroy Moore? 
Do n*t m iss the next Installment. Order your copy 
of WSIEO TATARS from your dealer now. 


o Eye-Witnesses 

By HENRY S. WHITEHEAD 


Bverard Simon had a weird experience in Platbush when his shoes were caked 
with blood and forest mold from the slaying of ferry the Wolf 


HERE were blood stains on Ever- 
ard Simon’s shoes. . . . 

Simon’s father had given up his 
country house in Rye when his wife died, 
and moved into an apartment in Flatbush 
among the rising apartment houses which 
were steadily replacing the original rural 
atmosphere of that residential section of 
swelling Brooklyn. 

Blood stains— and forest mold — on his 
shoes! 

The younger Simon — ^he was thirty- 
seven, his father getting on toward sev- 
enty — always spent his winters in the 
West Indies, returning in the spring, go- 
ing back again in October. He was a pop- 
ular writer of informative magazine ar- 
ticles. As soon as his various visits for 
week-ends and odd days were concluded, 
he would move his trunks into the Flat- 
bush apartment and spend a week or two, 
sometimes longer, with his father. There 
was a room for him in the apartment, and 
this he would occupy i til it was time for 
him to leave for his ‘"immer camp in 
the Adirondacks. Early in September he 
would repeat the process, always ending 
his autumn stay in the United States with 
his father until it was time to sail back to 
St. Thomas or Martinique or wherever he 
imagined he could write best for that par- 
ticular winter. 

’lliere was only one drawback in this 
arrangement. This was the long ride in 
the subway necessitated by his dropping 
in to his New York club every day. The 

Copyright, 1982. by 


dub was his real American headquarters. 
'There he received his mail. There he 
usually lunched and often dined as well. 
It was at the club that he received his 
visitors and his telephone calls. The dub 
was on Forty-Fourth Street, and to get 
there from the apartment he walked to 
the Church Avenue subway station, 
changed at De Kalb Avenue, and then 
took a Times Square express train over the 
Manhattan Bridge. 'Die time consumed 
between the door of the apartment and 
the door of the club was exadly three- 
quarters of an hour, barring delays. For 
the older man the arrangement was ideal. 
He could be in his office, he boasted, in 
twenty minutes. 

To avoid the annoyances of rush hours 
in the subway, Mr. Simon senior com- 
monly left home quite early in the morn- 
ing, about seven o’clock. He was a me- 
thodical person, always leaving before 
seven in the morning, and getting his 
breakfast in a downtown restaurant neat 
the office. Everard Simon rarely left the 
apartment until after nine, thus avoiding 
the morning rush-hour at its other end. 
During the five or six weeks every year 
that they lived together the two men 
really saw little of each other, although 
strong bonds of understanding, affection, 
and respect bound them together. Some- 
times the older man would awaken his son 
early in the morning for a brief conversa- 
tion. Occasionally the two would have a 
meal together, evenings, or on Sundays; 
now and then an evening would be spent 
Henry 3. Whitehead. 259, 



260 


WEIRD TALES 


in each other’s company. They had little 
to converse about. During the day they 
would sometimes call each other up and 
speak together briefly on the telephone 
from club to office or office to club. On 
the day when Everard Simon sailed south, 
his father and he always took a farewell 
luncheon together somewhere downtown. 
On the day of his return seven months 
later, his father always made it a point to 
meet him at the dock. These arrange- 
ments had prevailed for eleven years. He 
must get that blood wiped off. Blood! 
How ? 

During that period, the neighborhood 
of the apartment had changed out of all 
recognition. Open lots, commimity tennis- 
courts, and many of the older one-family 
houses had disappeared, to be replaced by 
the ubiquitous apartment houses. In 1928 
the neighborhood which had been almost 
rural when the older Simon had taken up 
his abode "twenty minutes from his Wall 
Street office” was solidly built up except 
for an occasional, and now incongruous, 
frame house standing lonely and dwarfed 
in its own grounds among the towering 
apartment houses, like a lost child in a 
preoccupied crowd of adults whose busi- 
ness caused them to look over the child’s 
head. 

O NE evening, not long before the end 
of his autumn sojourn in Flatbush, 
Everard Simon, having dined alone in his 
club, started for the Times Square subway 
station about a quarter before nine. 
Doubled together lengthwise, and press- 
ing the pocket of his coat out of shape, 
was a magazine, out that day, which con- 
tained one of his articles. He stepped on 
board a waiting Sea Beach express train, 
in the rearmost car, sat down, and opened 
the magazine, looking down the table of 
contents to find his article. The train 
started after the ringing of the warning 


bell and the automatic closing of the side 
doors, while he was putting on his read- 
ing-spectacles. He began on the article. 

He was dimly conscious of the slight 
bustle of incoming passengers at Broad- 
way and Canal Street, and again when the 
train ran out on the Manhattan Bridge be- 
cause of the change in the light, but his 
closing of the magazine with a page- 
corner turned down, and the replacing of 
the spectacles in his inside po^et when 
the train drew in to De Kalb Avenue, 
were almost entirely mechanical. He could 
make that change almost without thought. 
He had to cross the platform here at De 
Kalb Avenue, get into a Brighton Beach 
local train. The Brighton Beach expresses 
ran only in rush hours and he almost 
never travelled during those periods. 

He got into his train, found a seat, and 
resumed his reading. He paid no atten- 
tion to the stations — Atlantic and Seventh 
Avenues. The next stop after that. Pros- 
pect Park, would give him one of his me- 
chanical signals, like coming out on the 
bridge. 'The train emerged from its tun- 
nel at Prospect Park, only to re-enter it 
again at Parkside Avenue, the next fol- 
lowing station. After that came Church 
Avenue, where he got out every evening. 

As the train drew in to that station, he 
repeated the mechanics of turning down a 
page in the magazine, replacing his spec- 
tacles in tljeir case, and putting the case in 
his inside pocke*-. His mind entirely on 
the article, he got up, left the train, 
walked back toward the Caton Avenue 
exit, started to mount the stairs. 

A few moments later he was walking, 
his mind still entirely occupied with his 
article, in the long-familiar direction of 
his father’s apartment. 

The first matter which reminded him 
of his surroundings was the contrast in 
his breathing after the somewhat stuffy 
air of the subway train. Consciously he 


NO EYE-WITNESSES 


261 


drew in a deep breath of the fresh, sweet 
outdoor air. There was a spiqr odor of 
wet leaves about it somehow. It seemed, 
as he noticed his environment with the 
edge of his mind, darker than usual. The 
crossing of Church and Caton Avenues 
was a brightly lighted corner. Possibly 
something was temporarily wrong with 
the lighting system. He looked up. Great 
trees nodded above his head. He could see 
the stars twinkling above their lofty tops. 
The sickle edge of a moon cut sharply 
against black branches moving gently in a 
fresh wind from the sea. 

He walked on several steps before he 
paused, slackened his gait, then stopped 
dead, his mind responding in a note of 
quiet wonderment. 

Great trees stood all about him. From 
some distance ahead a joyous song in a 
manly bass, slightly muffled by the wood 
of the thick trees, came to his ears. It was 
a song new to him. He found himself 
listening to it eagerly. The song was en- 
tirely strange to him, the words unfamil- 
iar. He listened intently. The singer came 
nearer. He caught various words, Eng- 
lish words. He distinguished "merry,” 
and "heart,” and "repine.” 

It seemed entirely natural to be here, 
and yet, as he glanced down at his brown 
clothes, his highly polished shoes, felt the 
magazine bulging his pocket, the edge of 
his mind caught a note of incongruity. He 
remembered with a smile that strange 
drawing of Aubrey Beardsley’s, of a lady 
playing an upright cottage pianoforte in 
the midst of a field of daisies! He stood, 
he perceived, in a kind of rough path 
worn by long usage. The groimd was 
damp underfoot. Already his polished 
shoes were soiled with mold. 

The singer came nearer and nearer. 
Obviously, as the fresh voice indicated, it 
was a young man. Just as the voice 
presaged that before many seconds the 


singer must come out of the screening ar- 
ray of tree boles, Everard Simon was 
startled by a crashing, quite near by, at his 
right. The singer paused in the middle of 
a note, and for an instant there was a 
primeval silence undisturbed by the rustle 
of a single leaf. 

Then a huge timber wolf burst through 
the underbrush to the right, paused, 
crouched, and sprang, in a direction diag- 
onal to that in which Everard Simon was 
facing, toward the singer. 

S TARTLED into a frigid immobility, Si- 
mon stood as though petrified. He 
heard an exclamation, in the singer’s 
voice, a quick "heh”; then the sound of 
a struggle. The great wolf, apparently, 
had failed to knock down his quarry. 
Then without warning, the two figures, 
man and wolf, came into plain sight; the 
singer, for so Simon thought of him, a 
tall, robust fellow, in fringed deerskin, 
slashing desperately with a hunting-knife, 
the beast crouching now, snapping with a 
tearing motion of a great punishing jaw. 
Short-breathed "heh’s” came from the 
man, as he parried dexterously the lashing 
snaps of the wicked jaws. 

The two, revolving about each other, 
came very close. Everard Simon watched 
the struggle, fascinated, motionless. Sud- 
denly the animal shifted its tactics. It 
backed away stealthily, preparing for an- 
other spring. The young woodsman 
abruptly dropped his knife, reached for 
the great pistol which depended from his 
belt in a rough leather holster. 'There was 
a blinding flash, and the wolf slithered 
down, its legs giving under it. A great 
cloud of acrid smoke drifted about Ever- 
ard Simon, cutting off his vision; choking 
smoke which made him cough. 

But through it, he saw the look of hor- 
rified wonderment on the face of the 
young woodsman; saw the pistol drop on 


262 


WEIRD TALES 


the damp ground as the knife had 
dropped; followed with his eyes, through 
the dimming medium of the hanging 
smoke, the fascinated, round-eyed stare of 
the man who had fired the pistol. 

There, a few feet away from him, he 
saw an eldritch change passing over the 
beast, shivering now in its death-struggle. 
He saw the hair of the great paws dis- 
solve, the jaws shorten and shrink, the 
lithe body buckle and heave strangely. He 
closed his eyes, and when he opened them, 
he saw the figure in deerskins standing 
mutely over the body of a man, lying 
prone across tree-roots, a pool of blood 
spreading, spreading, from the concealed 
face, mingling with the damp earth under 
the tree-roots. 

Then the strange spell of quiescence 
which had held him in its weird thrall was 
dissolved, and, moved by a nameless ter- 
ror, he ran, wildly, straight down the 
narrow path between the trees. . . . 

I T SEEMED to him that he had been run- 
ning only a short distance when some- 
thing, the moon above the trees, perhaps, 
began to increase in size, to give a more 
brilliant light. He sladcened his pace. 
The ground now felt firm underfoot, no 
longer damp, slippery. Other lights 
joined that of the moon. Things became 
brighter all about him, and as this bril- 
liance increased, the great trees all about 
him turned dim and pale. The ground 
was now quite hard underfoot. He looked 
up. A bridk wall faced him. It was pierced 
with windows. He looked down. He 
stood on pavement. Overhead a street- 
light swung lightly in the late September 
breeze. A faint smell of wet leaves was in 
the air, mingled now with the fresh wind 
from the sea. The magazine was clutched 
tightly in his left hand. He had, it ap- 
peared, drawn it from his pocket. He 
looked at it ciuiously, put it back into the 
pocket. 


He stepped along over familiar pave- 
ment, past well-known fagades. The en- 
trance to his father’s apartment loomed 
before him. Mechanically he thrust his 
left hand into his trousers pcxket. He 
took out his key, opened the door, tra- 
versed the familiar hallway with its rugs 
and marble walls and bracket side-wall 
light-clusters. He moiuited the stairs, one 
flight, turned the comer, reached the 
door of the apartment, let himself in with 
his key. 

It was half-past nine and his father had 
already retired. They talked through the 
old man’s bedroom door, monosyllabical- 
ly. ’The conversation ended with the 
request from his father that he close the 
bedroom door. He did so, after wishing 
the old man good-night. 

He sat down in an armchair in the liv- 
ing-room, passed a hand over his forehead, 
bemused. He sat for fifteen minutes. 
Then he reached into his pocket for a cig- 
arette. They were all gone. Then he 
remembered that he had meant to buy a 
fresh supply on his way to the apartment. 
He had meant to get the cigarettes from 
the drug-store between the Church 
Avenue subway station and the apart- 
ment! He looked about the room for one. 
His father’s supply, too, seemed depl^d. 

He rose, walked into the entry, put on 
his hat, stepped out again into the hall- 
way, descended the one flight, went out 
into the street. He walked into an un- 
wonted atmosphere of excitement. People 
were conversing as they passed, in excited 
tones; about the drug-store entrance a 
crowd was gathered. Slightly puzzled, he 
walked toward it, paused, blocked, on the 
outer edge. 

"What’s happened?’’ he inquired of a 
young man whom he found standing just 
beside him, a little to the fore. 

"It’s a shooting of some kind," the 
young man explained. "I only just got 


NO EYE-WITNESSES 


263 


here myself. The fellow that got bumped 
off is inside the drug-store, — what’s left 
of him. Some gang- war stuff, I guess.” 

He walked away, skirting the rounded 
edge of the clustering aowd of curiosity- 
mongers, proceeded dovm the street, pro- 
cured the cigarettes elsewhere. He passed 
the now enlarged crowd on the other 
side of the street on his way back, re- 
turned to the apartment, where he sat, 
smoking and thinking, until eleven, when 
he retired. Curious — a man shot; just at 
the time, or about the time, he had let 
that imagination of his get the better of 
him — those trees! 

H IS father awakened him about five 
minutes before seven. The old man 
held a newspaper in his hand. He 
pointed to a scare-head on the front page. 

"This must have happened about the 
time you came in,” remarked Mr. Simon. 

"Yes — the crowd was around the drug- 
store when I went out to get some cig- 
arettes,” replied Everard Simon, stretch- 
ing and yawning. 

When his father was gone and ^e had 
finished with his bath, he sat down, in a 
bathrobe, to glance over the newspaper 
account. A phrase arrested him: 

". . . the body was identified as that 
of the Wolf,’ a notorious gangster 
with a long prison record.” Then, lower 
down, when he had resumed his reading: 

"... a large-caliber bullet which, en- 
tering the lower jaw, penetrated the base 
of the brain. ... no eye-witnesses. . . .” 

Everard Simon sat for a long time after 
he had finished the account, the news- 
paper on the floor by his chair. "No eye- 
witnesses!” He must, really, keep that 
imagination of his within bounds, within 
his control. 

Slowly and reflectively, this good res- 
olution uppermost, be went back to the 


bathroom and prepared for his morning 
shave. 

Putting on his shoes, in his room, he 
observed something amiss. He picked up 
a shoe, examined it carefully. The soles 
of the shoes were caked with black mold, 
precisely like the mold from the wood- 
paths about his Adirondack camp. Little < 
withered leaves and dried pine-needles 
clung to the mold. And on the side of 
the right shoe were brownish stains, exact- 
ly like freshly dried bloodstains. He 
shuddered as he carried the shoes into the 
bathroom, wiped them- clean with a damp 
towel, then rinsed out the towel. He put 
them on, and shortly afterward, before he 
entered the subway to go over to the club 
for the day, he had them polished. 

The bootblack spoke of the killing on 
that comer the night before. The boot- 
black noticed nothing amiss with the 
shoes, and when he had finished, there 
was no trace of any stains. 

S IMON did not change at De Kalb 
Avenue that morning. An idea had 
occurred to him between Church Avenue 
and De Kalb, and he stayed on the 
Brighton local, secured a seat after the 
emptying process which took place at De 
Kalb, and went on through the East River 
tunnel. 

He sent in his name to Forrest, a col- 
lege acquaintance, now in the district at- 
torney’s oflSce, and Forrest received him 
after a brief delay. 

"I wanted to ask a detail about this 
gangster who was killed in Flatbush last 
night,” said Simon. "I suppose you have 
his record, haven’t you?” 

"Yes, we know pretty well all about 
him. What particular thing did you want 
to know?” 

"About his name,” replied Simon. 
"Why was he called ^h® Wolf — 

that is, why "The Wolf particularly?” 


264 


• WEmD TALES 


"That’s a very queer thing, Simon. Such 
a name is not, really, uncommon. There 
was that fellow, Goddard, you remember. 
They called him The Wolf of Wall 
Street.’ There was the fiction criminal 
known as 'The Lone Wolf.’ There have 
been plenty of 'wolves’ among criminal 
'nHjnikers.’ But this fellow, Jerry Goraff- 
sky, was a Hungarian, really. He was 
called 'The Wolf,’ queerly enough, be- 
cause there were those in his gang who 
believed he was one of those birds who 
could change himself into a wolf! It’s a 
queer combination, isn’t it? — for a New 
York gangster?” 

"Yes,” said Everard Simon, "it is, very 
queer, when you come to think of it. I’m 
much obliged to you for telling me. I 
was curious about it somehow.” 

"That isn’t the only queer aspect of this 
case, however,” resiuned Forrest, a light 
frown suddenly showing on his keen face. 
"In fact that wolf-thing isn’t a part of the 
case — doesn’t concern us, of course, here 
in the district attorney’s office. That’s 
nothing but blah. Gangsters are as super- 
stitious as sailors; more so, in fact! 

"No. 'Hie real mystery in this affair 
is — the bullet, Simon. Want to see it?” 

"Why — yes; of course — -if you like, 
Forrest. What’s.wrong with the bullet?” 

Forrest stepped out of the room, re- 
turned at once, laid a large, round ball on 


his dedr. Both men bent over it curi- 
ously. 

"Notice that diameter, Simon,” said 
Forrest. "It’s a hand-molded round ball 
— belongs in a collection of curios, not in 
any gangster’s gat! Why, man, it’s lUce 
the slugs they used to hunt the bison be- 
fore the old Sharps rifle was invented. It’s 
the kind of a ball Fenimore Cooper’s peo- 
ple used — 'Deerslayer!’ It would take a 
young cannon to throw that thing. 
Smashed in the whole front of Jerry’s 
ugly mug. The inside works of his head 
were spilled all over the sidewalk! It’s 
what the newspapers always call a 'clue.' 
Who do you suppose resurrected the 
horse-pistol — or the ship’s blunderbuss — 
to do that job on Jerry? Clever, in a way. 
Hooked it out of some dime museum, per- 
haps. There are still a few of those old 
'pitches’ still operating, you know, at the 
old stand — along East Fourteenth Street.” 

"A flintlock, single-shot horse-pistol, 
I’d imagine,” said Everard Simon, laying 
the ounce lead ball bade on the mahogany 
desk. He knew something of weapons, 
new and old. As a writer of informa- 
tional articles that was part of his per- 
manent equipment. 

"Very likdy,” mused the assistant dis- 
trict attorney. "Glad you came in, dd 
man.” 

And Everard Simon went on uptown to 
his dub. 



(^Id Clothes 

By JOHN D. WHITING 

The old inventor learns the truth about life from his 
marvelous radio receiver 


T he great inventor sank upon his 
couch, tired and rather depressed. 
There, before him, was the last 
and greatest child of his brain, a radio 
receiver many times more sensitive than 
any other in the world. But, after all, 
what was the use.^ Was the struggle 
worth while? He was an old man, worn 
out and sick and nearing the end. And 
when he was gone, fools, he reflected, 
would misuse his invention, perhaps to 
get some ungodly jazz from the far ends 
of the earth. 

How still was the night! Not a breath 
stirred in the maple trees outside his win- 
dov/. And over them twinkled the stars, 
countless incredible proofs of a universe 
unbounded; a universe cruel as death, in- 
finite, heartless, inhuman. The old man 
bowed his white head to shut out the 
stars. 

Suddenly something began to come in 
on his marvelous receiver. Strange, he 
had tuned the thing so as to bar any or- 
dinary wave length. All he had wanted 
was silence and rest. But here it was, 
faint as a breath but clear enough in the 
silence, a message in Morse: 

"Dear Girl: 

"I hope this will reach you at Saturn. 
I tuned it for Saturn, knowing that you 
must be on your way there. I’ve had a 
most .interesting trip — where do you sup- 
pose I’ve been? Why, you’d never guess: 
back to that quaint little spot we used to 
call 'the world.’ It was too funny for 
words and, still, rather pathetic. My dear. 


I had forgotten how very primitive it 
was. 

"The voyage down was really lovely, 
a calm brilliant night with the planets 
glowing like fire in -a velvet black sky. 
As we approached it the dear old 'world,* 
lit by the full summer sun, was a dazzling 
mirror of light touched with all the tints 
of the spectrum on its curtain of clouds. 
You know, I tliink that curtain is thinner 
than it was when we left. As I got into 
the mists, the radiation of light burst 
suddenly into a vast dome of dazzling 
blue, and the black sky with its millions 
of stars was blotted from sight. You re- 
member the same effect when we came 
in to Venus? 

“I couldn’t make out where I was at 
first, but there was a great stretch of land 
and I came down at once. Well, my dear, 
what do you think, it proved to be 'home,' 
that great field we used to call America 
— remember? — ^you called it the States’, 
I travelled all over the globe for twenty- 
four hours, refreshing my memory, Grace, 
on the old haunts that we knew. Do you 
remember dirty old London, and Paris, 
or Italy — my, it was lovely! — and the 
poor little Alps? It was all so natural, 
but so small and funny that I could have 
laughed and cried. Good heavens! peo- 
ple down there are still wearing the same 
old 'bodies’ that we used to wear. Do you 
remember them, dear? Why, they were 
heavy as lead. Two 'legs’, think of it, we 
used to go stalking along on those stilts; 
it’s a wonder that we didn’t fall. And 

265 


266 


WEIRD TALES 


'bones’ to hold ’em together, great cum- 
bersome bones; how did we ever stand 
it? They looked to me like ancient armor 
or some ungodly machine. 

"But then, each time we get a new 
dress the old one seems funny like that. 
You must remember how, down on Venus, 
we had a good laugh at the queer old 
motor suits we had used while on Mars. 
And yet these poor earthworms, my dear, 
hang to their suits like grim death, as if, 
forsooth, life would be over when the 
machinery broke. It is pitiful — and fun- 
ny. I can dimly remember my horror, 
down on that stodgy old 'world’, when I 
foimd my suit was wearing out. Oh, you 
may laugh, but it was really a terrible 
fear. And you must remember, yourself, 
how those old bodies hurt us when any- 
thing went wrong. They were so heavy 
that of course it was a terrible struggle 
to get out of them at all. How surprized 
the earthworms would be if they could 
know that today I had just slipped out 
of my suit to go up to Mars! It didn’t 
take five minutes. 

"It might occur to the dears tliat their 
suits aren’t fit for changes. They don’t 
wear the same clothes for Alaska and the 
tropics. And yet they go along in their 
noisy airplanes trying to get up to Mars 
in bodies that are* suited to the 'world’. 
It is really very stupid. I saw some brok- 
en bodies, on earth, poor little huddles of 
clothes, so very like cast-off overcoats that 
one could hardly mistake them. How 
very blind we were! You remember how 
we used to put them into boxes and stick 
them underground while a. parson prayed 
before blubbering mourners in solemn 
black duds? Really, one might as well 
cry and say prayers over his last winter’s 
suit. 

"But it was sad leaving old friends; I 
left some, on earth, that I’ve never seen 
again. We know now that, in those cas«, 


they didn’t really care for us. It was 
pretty hard to read a person’s thought 
through all that camouflage; great masses 
of tallowy flesh, skulls, and, yes, even 
'whiskers’. Do you remember the whis- 
kers? I laughed aloud when I saw some 
on the suit of an earthworm. It was a 
clumsy suit worn by a man in that flat 
field we called 'Russia’. We used to think 
that the Russians were primitive; we, 
stalking stiffly aroimd, fighting and wor- 
rying over our money — ^poor little, greedy, 
blind fools. 

"They still use money down there — 
isn’t it simply absurd? Of course their 
suits are so very hard to keep in condi- 
tion tliat they need a lot of fuel, but, my 
dear, most of those earthworms have 
money to burn. They don’t spend half 
of it on the upkeep of their 'bodies’. You 
remember we used to buy savage orna- 
ments, Grace, to hang upon our necks. 
And yet we would worry and scurry over 
the face of the 'world’ like a swarm of 
restless ants, searching for something 
to do. We were blind, absolutely 
blind. . . .’’ 

W HEN the inventor’s daughter came 
in from a dance in the early hours 
of the morning, she found her father 
fast asleep on the couch beside his last 
invention. On his sunken, wrinkled face 
was a gentle smile of understanding. 

"My, how peaceful he looks,’’ she 
thought, "like a happy child! Poor dad, 
he has worked too hard; he’s not long 
for this world. I wonder if that receiver 
of his is really any good. He won’t make 
much out of it anyway, I guess; he always 
gets cheated. Well, money doesn’t mean 
such a lot to him; he won’t need it very 
long. I hardly dare to wake him, he looks 
so unearthly, but he ought to get to bed. 
He’ll be awfully cramped, lying all night 
in his clothes.’’ 


Uhe 


^Archfiend’s Fingers 

By KIRK MASHBURN 

]ohn Power blundered into a strange and weird adventure during the 
Mardi Gras carnivd in New Orleans 


W HAT place this was into which he 
had stumbled, John Power neither 
knew nor cared. It was some 
shady cabaret; some dimly lighted dive of 
sinister shadows, perhaps near to the 
waterfront. 

Slumped at a small table, he sensed 
little of what went on around him, re- 
membered nothing of how he had become 
separated from his friends. It was car- 
nival time, Mardi Gras Day in New 
Orleans. Vaguely, Power knew that he 
had celebrated too enthusiastically, had 
drunk too freely. There was a blank in 
his memory, and everything was rather 
more than hazy. He had no knowledge, 
even, that the thinning backwash of ^e 
carnival crowds no longer eddied in the 
street outside, had wearily dissolved in 
the early night. 

Something of his surroundings ob- 
scurely troubled the bemused man. But 
it was too weighty and painful an effort 
to think. His head throbbed dully; nausea 
reached slyly, touched him with a tenta- 
tive finger. It seemed that some one 
spoke, from across the table — 

"Your pardon, sir. I have no wish to 
intrude, but you appear in need of some- 
thing to lower your stomach, and raise 
your spirits.” 

In blurred, indistinct outline. Power 
saw that there was indeed another person 
seated opposite him. The stranger laughed 
dryly, as though his indulgence might be 
tinged with faintly contemptuous amuse- 
ment. He beckoned, spoke succinctly to 


a none too clean waiter who answered 
the gesture. 

A drink was brought, a palely green 
drink that shimmered in its glass, as if 
with flecks of gold in its depths. The 
stranger pressed the greenish drink upon 
the younger man with obdurate, if kindly 
guised insistence. Power groaned weakly, 
swallowed the virescent potion and nau- 
sea together; know*" he was shortly to 
be ill; hoping, with teeble malice, that he 
would be very unpleasantly ill. Then, 
perhaps, they would let him alone. 

The draft stung his palate, seared his 
throat, struck his stomach like flowing 
fire. Amazingly, almost before he could 
gasp for breath, nausea vanished; the 
throbbing at his temples began to still, tire 
fog to lift from his wits. 

"Ah, that is better! Is it not?” The 
stranger nodded, smiled easily. Power 
looked across at him with mixed emo- 
tions, in which some trace of resentment 
lingered. 

He took in the dark, saturnine coun- 
tenance, about which there was some- 
thing familiar — ^vaguely and disturbing]^ 
familiar. Somewhere, he thought, he had 
seen that high forehead; the whisper of 
memory strove to identify that arrogant, 
narrow-bridged nose, the oddly arched 
brows and the thin-lipped mouth that 
presently wore a smile of tolerant amuse- 
ment. 

Only the eyes were unfamiliar. John 
Power felt that he had seen the face with- 
out having looked into the dark, glitter- 
ing eyes: his memory could not otherwise 

267 


268 


WEIRD TALES 


have escaped some record of their chill 
fascination. It was as if he remembered 
a picture of the face, rather than the liv- 
ing countenance. 

"I feel better,” Power belatedly ac- 
knowledged. "That is — I don’t feel ill, 
nor stupid, as I did. But” — he brushed a 
hand uncertainly across his eyes — "I don’t 
know ” 

The stranger — he made no move to 
identify himself; nor, strangely, did the 
thought occur to Power — the stranger 
laughed again. His was an enfolding 
laugh, a laugh of comprehension. It was 
as if he knew and understood all the in- 
sidious perplexities of mankind — and was 
glad of mankind’s human frailty. 

The waiter brou' r ' more of the green 
drinks. The stranger talked to Power 
while they were coming, and the latter 
listened. They drank often, always the 
green drinks; but Power had never felt 
more alive, his mind had never before 
seemed quite so active. Occasionally the 
stranger passed him cigarettes, apparently 
of tobacco in which the blending gave a 
peculiar distinctive taste that was not, 
however, displeasing at the moment. 

At length the bracing effect Power had 
experienced with the first draft of the 
green liquor began to wear off. His head 
was resuming its tlirobbing, and thinking 
was again an effort. A feeling of uneasi- 
ness assailed him with recurring insist- 
ence. He sensed something disturbing in 
his surroundings; something that included 
his unknown yet oddly familiar table 
companion. 

H e decided to go while the effort was 
still possible — wondered that he had 
not taken his leave after that revitalizing 
first drink. With difficulty, he gained his 
feet, hastened by a sudden, rising impulse 
of dread: instinctive, insinuating dread, 
that came unsummoned and unexplained. 


"Surely you will not leave so early?” 

It was the stranger who spoke; but the 
simple question seemed, to Power’s tor- 
tured fancy, fraught with irony and all 
the weight of a command. Giddily he 
sought to focus his thoughts. Thickly he 
repeated his intention of departing; think- 
ing that, despite himself, he spoke so low 
that his words were almost whispered. 
Then he wondered whether, instead, he 
had shouted: every one in the place ap- 
peared to have centered attention sudden- 
ly in his direction. 

As Power peered about him, each face 
among those present flared into startling 
distinctness — and what faces they were! 
There were nightmare visages of horror; 
grotesque, distorted faces that worked 
with slavering malice as they approached. 
. . . ( God! What place was this into 
which he had blundered?) There were 
other faces, pale with the pallor of death, 
set masks of wo and utter, horrible 
despair. 

One fantastic shape detached itself and 
came forward, apart from its fellows. It 
wore a Spanish helmet and breastplate ol 
antique design, and was shod in high 
Spanish boots. The shadowing helmet 
blurred the face beneath, and that but in- 
tensified an impression of hideous fear- 
someness. As the monster came beneath 
a ceiling light — or was there a light there? 
was there even a ceiling? — Power ob- 
served that its armor, its garments even to 
the high boots, looked to be splotched and 
smeared with red — bloody splotches that 
spread and merged until they wholly 
enveloped the sinister figure. 

"Who are you?” Power snarled in un- 
easy anger. There was no answer. It was 
an easy and natural transition, in Power’s 
irrational condition, from disturbed peev- 
ishness to sudden, flaring rage. 

Still snarling, he staggered up, seized 
his chair and raised it to hurl at the mo- 


THE ARCHFIEND’S FINGERS 


269 


tionless figure in ancient Spanish armor. 
But his table companion, who had sat 
motionless until the moment, sprang for- 
ward with outstretched hands. 

Suddenly it seemed to Power that he 
saw the Stranger with blinding clearness, 
as if a veil had been torn aside — saw him, 
and knew him for what he was! At the 
sight of those reaching talons, fear 
snapped the last shreds of his control. He 
screamed aloud in panic — 

"Help!” and again, "Help!” 

From a door in the rear of the place 
leaped a figure, and Power shouted with 
joy upon recognizing the waiter who had 
served his table. But no! — Before his 
eyes, an awful metamorphosis occurred. 

. . . The attendant was but another demon 
come to join the grim, silently encircling 
throng. 

"Away, fiends!” Power shrieked, again 
raising the chair he held. Before he could 
fling it, the Stranger had seized his wrist. 
To Power, it felt as if those taloned fin- 
gers seared through his flesh to the bone. 

"Back! All of you stand back!” cried 
he of the clutching hands. "Let me deal 
with him alone!” 

The words seared Power’s brain: He 
was claimed by the Archfiend himself! 

The thought gave final impetus to his 
madness. Wrenching violently from the 
grasp that pained his wrist, and swinging 
the chair before him. Power swept a 
path of havoc to a door. 

'The door opened. Power gained the 
street with a bound, fled over ancient 
flagstones down dim, narrow, cobbled 
streets. What course he covered in 
twisted flight, he never afterward knew. 
At the moment, he cared only that it was 
away from the clamorous pursuit upon 
his heels. At lengtli, looking up, the 
fugitive recognized an enclosure within a 
high iron fence — a fence in which gaped 
an open gate. 


Clanging shut and latching the gate in 
the faces of the foremost of the racing 
figures at his back. Power bounded 
across Jackson Square, where the hero of 
Chalmette sat his charger in bronze dis- 
dain of the turmoil boiling in his shadow. 

The gate stopped pursuit for a precious 
moment. Power made for the opposite 
side of the square, where Saint Louis’ 
Cathedral loomed out of the shadows, 
across a narrow street. He was spent; a 
myriad aches racked his heaving chest, 
but he knew that he must cross that street, 
gain the cathedral. 'Shey could never 
enter there! 

He staggered into the open vestibule 
as the chimes pealed on the stroke of mid- 
night. The period of carnival was over; 
Ash Wednesday and Lenten penitence 
were ushered in, while Power beat against 
the inner doors. The patter of pursuing 
feet sounded without, as their spent quar- 
ry sagged and crumpled to the floor. 

"Sanctuary!” he sobbed. "Sanctuary!” 

A sound as of roshing waters filled his 
ear-drums almost to bursting; darkness 
crowded in, encompassed him. The gasp- 
ing figure in the cathedral vestibule sank 
into merciful oblivion. 

P OWER recovered his senses in what 
seemed a few seconds. Trip-hammers 
pounded inside his head, and he was con- 
scious of acute and consuming thirst. 
Still dominating every other thought was 
the urge to crawl farther into the cathe- 
dral. 

It had been so much darker a moment 
ago, he thought with vague wonder as 
he strove to drag himself forward. Some- 
thing interfered with his effort; he peered 
dazedly to see what it was. Then Power 
sat up with a jerk that nearly burst his 
head, filling him v/ith giddiness. He 
groaned aloud. 

He was in a small white bed, in a 


270 


WEIRD TALES 


white-walled room with other small, 
white beds ... a hospital ward! At his 
movement, a white-uniformed nurse came 
briskly forward. 

"What happened.?” Power croaked, 
ignoring the nurse’s injunction to lie 
down and be quiet. "How long have I 
been here?” 

"Since last night, when you were found 
collapsed at the doors of Saint Louis’ 
Cathedral,” the nurse replied. Her voice 
was brittle with disapproval. 

"Why was I brought here?” Power de- 
manded, gropingly insistent. 

"Because you were suffering from the 
effects of acute alcoholism,” tartly re- 
turned the nurse. "And also” — ^her tone 
was definitely accusing — "you were rav- 
ing as the result of smoking mart juana.” 

"Mari juana?’’ Power stupidly repeated. 


"Sisal — ^hasheesh,” crisply affirmed the 
nurse, turning away. "Will you please lie 
down?” 

But Power had become aware of a dull 
pain that was apart from the bursting of 
his head. Lifting a hand, he stared at the 
bandage swathing his wrist. He would 
never be jd>le to forget the Stranger who 
had shared his table, uninvited, in a 
shadowed, unknown place; hazily, he re- 
membered smoking cigarettes of a pead- 
iar, acrid taste. 

But premonition whispered that drink 
nor drug would ever explain the reason 
for the gauze wrapped about his wrist. 
Slowly, Power removed the bandage. 

Except that they were burned like a 
brand into the ffesh, the marks upon his 
wrist were the livid imprint of a thund) 
and four long, pointed fingers. 


cPi 


irate’s Hoard 


By ALFRED 1. TOOKE 

Seven skulls upon the sand. 
White as any coral; 

This one was a captain’s skull. 
Cracked in bloody quarrel. 
'This one was a cabin boy’s; 

These were mutineers’. 

Seven skulls upon the sand. 
Bleaching through the years. 


Seven chests of treasure strewn 
On the coral strand; 

Seven skeletons on guard 
In the sifting sand. 

Golden goblets, silver coins. 
Strings of precious stones; 
Seven grinning skulls that watdi 
Piles of bleaching bones. 


THE EYRIE 


271 


The Eyrie 

(Continued from page 130) 

Hyman Vinunsky, of Cleveland, writes to the Eyrie: "The Devil’s Bride is again 
the best story in the June issue. And Black Invocation by Paul Ernst — what a story 
that is! When the Latin formula is read, I can just imagine what a scene of weird 
power it makes. A wonderful story!” 

"My curiosity is aroused — is there a Jules de Grandin, or did Seabury Quinn just 
create him?” writes Evelyn Martin, of Heltonville, Indiana. "I have been greatly en- 
joying The Devil’s Bride. Please don’t leave Jules de Grandin out of any more issues.” 

"I have been a reader of Weird Tales for the past four years and in that time I 
have come to enjoy each issue better than the one which preceded it,” writes Wil- 
liam H. Waters, Jr., of Gaithersburg, Maryland. "If I were to vojce a preference 
for any of your authors (all of whom are good), it would certainly be Seabury 
Quinn. His Doctor de Grandin is a veritable Sherlock Holmes of the occult.” 

"In the name of Allah and a thousand minor deities,” writes Andr^ Galet, of New 
York City, "will you please tell us why you propose to reprint such well-known 
stories as Frankenstein and Dracula when they can be secured in almost every public 
library or bookstore? If you are really sincere in your desire to please us (the read- 
ers) and if it is humanly possible, why not publish in your reprint department Von 
Junzt’s Nameless Cults, or the Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred? Yours for more 
stories like Kings of the Night, The Outsider, and The Picture.” 

The favorite story in the June issue, as shown by your letters and votes, is The 
Devil’s Pool, that amazing werewolf novelette by Greye La Spina. 'The fifth install- 
ment of Seabury Quinn’s powerful novel of devil-worship. The Devil’s Bride, was 
your second choice. What is your favorite story in this issue? 

MY FAVORITE STORIES IN THE AUGUST WEIRD TALES ARE; 

Story Remarks 

( 1 ) 

( 2 ) 

(3) 

I do not like the following stories: 

(1) Why? 

( 2 ) 

It will help us to know what kind of stories 
you want in Weird Tales if you will 
fill out this coupon and mail it to The 
Eyrie, Weird Tales, 840 N. Michigan Ave., 

Qiicago, 111. 


— 
Reader's name and address: 


I 



By MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY 


The Story Thus Far 

R obert WALTON, captain of a 
ship seeking a passage through 
“■ the Arctic Ocean, saw a low car- 
riage, fixed on a sledge and drawn by 
dogs, pass over the ice-field to the nordi. 
In it sat a being which had the shape of 
a man, but apparently of gigantic stature. 

The next morning, after the ice had 
broken, he rescued from an ice-field an- 
other man, greatly emaciated. Only one 
of his dogs remained alive, for he had 
been marooned for some time. The man 
was Victor Frankenstein, a young scien- 
tist, who related to Captain Walton the 
incredible story of his life and how he 
came to be on the ice-floe. 

Frankenstein had lived in Geneva with 
his father and his adopted sister, Eliza- 
beth, to whom he was betrothed. His 
father sent him to school at Ingolstadt 
with his chum, Henry Clerval. There he 
progressed in his studies of natural science 
to such a point that he learned to create 
life. 

Without taking Qerval into his secret, 
Frankenstein created a monster, eight feet 
tail and human in appearance, taking his 
materials from graveyards, slaughter- 

This stoi7 In 1 


houses and dissecting-rooms. The mon- 
ster was so terrible to look upon that 
Frankenstein fled from it, and the mon- 
ster escaped. 

Abandoned by its creator, the monster 
made its way to the vicinity of Franken- 
stein’s home, where he murdered Frank- 
enstein’s younger brother, William, mak- 
ing it appear that Justine Moritz, a friend 
of the family, had committed the murder. 
Justine was convicted and sentenced to 
death; while Frankenstein, knowing that 
if he told the tmth he would be con- 
sidered a lunatic, was forced to keep si- 
lence. 

Frankenstein met the monster in a hut 
in the Alps, and there the monster began 
to tell him how he had learned to talk, 
and how he had changed from a being 
with good impulses to a malevolent de- 
mon, simply b^ause all hands were raised 
against him on account of his frightful 
appearance. 


CHAPTER 12 

“T LAY on my straw, but I could not 
sleep. I thought of the occurrences 
of the day. What chiefly struck me was 
the gentle manners of these people; and I 

IBB TAXJBS tor 


272 


W. T.— 8 


FRANKENSTOIN 


273 


longed to join them, but dared not. I re- 
membered too well the treatment I had 
suffered the night before from the bar- 
barous villagers, and resolved, whatever 
course of conduct I might hereafter think 
it right to pursue, that for the present I 
would remain quietly in my hovel, watch- 
ing, and endeavoring to discover the mo- 
tives which influenced their actions. 

"The cottagers arose the next morning 
before the sun. The young woman ar- 
ranged the cottage, and prepared the 
food; and the youth departed after the 
first meal. 

"This day was passed in the same 
routine as that which preceded it. The 
young man was constantly employed out 
of doors, and the girl in various laborious 
occupations within. The old man, whom 
I soon perceived to be blind, employed his 
leisure hours on his instrument or in con- 
templation. Nothing could exceed the 
love and respect which the younger cot- 
tagers exhibited towards their venerable 
companion. They performed towards 
him every little office of affection and duty 
with gentleness; and he rewarded them by 
his benevolent smiles. 

"They were not entirely happy. The 
young man and his companion often went 
apart, and appeared to weep. I saw no 
cause for their unhappiness; but I was 
deeply affected by it. If such lovely crea- 
tures were miserable, it was less strange 
that I, an imperfect and solitary being, 
should be wretched. Yet why were these 
gentle beings unhappy? They possessed a 
delightful house (for such it was in my 
eyes) and every luxury; they had a fire to 
warm them when chill, and delicious 
viands when hungry; they were dressed in 
excellent clothes; and, still more, they en- 
joyed one another’s company and speech, 
interchanging each day looks of affection 
and kindness. What did their tears imply? 
Did they really express pain? I was at 
first unable to solve these questions. 

W. T.— 9 


"A considerable period elapsed before I 
discovered one of the causes of the uneasi- 
ness of this amiable family: it was pov- 
erty; and they suffered that evil in a very 
distressing degree. Their nourishment 
consisted entirely of the vegetables of 
their garden, and the milk of one cow, 
which gave very little during the winter, 
when its masters could scarcely procure 
food to support it. They often, I believe, 
suffered the pangs of hunger very poign- 
antly, especially the two younger cottag- 
ers; for several times they placed food 
before the old man vhen they reserved 
none for themselves. 

"This trait of kindness moved me sen- 
sibly. I had been accustomed, during the 
night, to steal a part of their store for my 
own consumption; but when I found that 
in doing this I inflicted pain on the cot- 
tagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself 
with berries, nuts, and roots, which I 
gathered from a neighboring wood. 

"I discovered also another means 
through which I was enabled to assist their 
labors. I found that the youth spent a 
great part of each day in collecting wood 
for the family fire; and, during the night, 
I often took his tools, the use of whidi I 
quickly discovered, and brought home fir- 
ing sufficient for the consumption of sev- 
eral days. 

"I remember the first time that I did 
this the young woman, when she opened 
the door in the morning, appeared greatly 
astonished on seeing a great pile of wood 
on the outside. She uttered some words in 
a loud voice, and the youth joined her, 
who also expressed surprize. I observed, 
with pleasure, that he did not go to the 
forest that day, but spent it in repairing 
the cottage and cultivating the garden. 

"By degrees I made a discovery of still 
greater moment. I found that these peo- 
ple possessed a method of communicating 
their experience and feelings to one an- 
other by articulate sounds. I perceived 


274 


WEIRD TALES 


that the words they spoke sometimes pro- 
duced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, 
in the minds and countenances of the 
hearers. This was indeed a god-like sci- 
ence, and I ardently desired to become 
acquainted with it. But I was baffled in 
every attempt I made for this purpose. 
Their pronunciation was quick; and the 
words they uttered, not having any appar- 
ent connection with visible objects, I was 
unable to discover any clue by which I 
could unravel the mystery of their refer- 
ence. By great application, however, and 
after having remained during the space of 
several revolutions of the moon in my 
hovel, I discovered the names that were 
given to some of the most familiar ob- 
jects of discourse; I learned and applied 
the words, fire, milk, bread, and wood. I 
learned also the names of the cottagers 
themselves. The youth and his companion 
had each of them several names, but the 
old man had only one, which was father. 
The girl was called sister, or Agatha; and 
the youth Velix, brother, or son. I can not 
describe the delight I felt when I learned 
the ideas appropriated to each of these 
sounds, and was able to pronounce them. 
1 distinguished several otfier words, with- 
out being able as yet to understand or 
apply them; such as good, dearest, un- 
happy. 

“T SPENT the winter in this manner. The 
- 1 . gentle manners and beauty of the 
cottagers greatly endeared them to me: 
when they were unhappy, I felt depressed; 
when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their 
joys. I saw few human beings besides 
them; and if any other happened to enter 
the cottage, their harsh manners and rude 
gait only enhanced to me the superior ac- 
complishments of my friends. 

"The old man, I could perceive, often 
endeavored to encourage his children, as 
sometimes I found that he called them, to 
cast off their melancholy. He would talk 


in a cheerful accent, with an expression of 
goodness that bestowed pleasure even 
upon me. Agatha listened with respect, 
her eyes sometimes filled with tears, 
which she endeavored to wipe away un- 
perceived; but I generally found that her 
countenance and tone were more cheerful 
after having listened to the exhortations 
of her father. It was not thus with Felix. 
He was always the saddest of the group; 
and, even to my unpractised senses, he ap- 
peared to have suffered more deeply than 
his friends. But if his countenance was 
more sorrowful, his voice was more cheer- 
ful than that of his sister, especially when 
he addressed the old man. 

“I could mention innumerable in- 
stances, which, although slight, marked 
the dispositions of these amiable cottag- 
ers. In the midst of poverty and want, 
Felix carried with pleasure to his sister the 
first little white flower that peeped out 
from beneath the snowy ground. Early 
in the morning, before she had risen, he 
cleared away the snow that obstructed her 
path to the milk-house, drew water from 
the well, and brought the wood from the 
out-house, where, to his perpetual aston- 
ishment, he found his store always re- 
plenished by an invisible hand. In the day, 
I believe, he worked sometimes for a 
neighboring farmer, because he often 
went forth, and did not return until din- 
ner, yet brought no wood with him. At 
other times he worked in the garden; but, 
as there was little to do in the frosty sea- 
son, he read to the old man and Agatha. 

"This reading had puzzled me ex- 
tremely at first; but, by degrees, I discov- 
ered that he uttered many of the same 
sounds when he read as when he talked. 
I conjectured, therefore, that he found on 
the paper signs for speech which he un- 
derstood, and I ardently longed to com- 
prehend these also; but how was that pos- 
sible, when I did not even understand the 
sounds for which they stood as signs? I 


FRANKENSTEIN 


275 


improved, however, sensibly in this sci- 
ence, but not sufficiently to follow up any 
kind of conversation, dthough I applied 
my whole mind to the endeavor: for I 
easily perceived that, although I eagerly 
longed to discover myself to the cottagers, 
I ought not to make the attempt until I 
had first become master of their language; 
which knowledge might enable me to 
make them overlook the deformity of my 
figure; for with this also the contrast 
perpetually presented to my eyes had 
made me acquainted. 

“I had admired the perfect forms of 
my cottagers — their grace, beauty, and 
delicate complexions: but how was I ter- 
rified when I viewed myself in a transpar- 
ent pool! At first I started back, unable 
to believe that it was indeed I who was 
reflected in the mirror; and viffien I be- 
came fully convinced that I was in reality 
the monster that I am, I was filled with 
the bitterest sensations of despondence 
and mortification. Alas! I did not yet en- 
tirely know the fatal effects of this miser- 
able deformity. 

"As the sun became warmer, and the 
light of day longer, the snow vanished, 
and I beheld the bare trees and the black 
earth. From this time Felix was more 
employed; and the heart-moving indica- 
tions of impending famine disappeared. 

‘•V’ l Ihe old man, leaning on his son, 

A walked each day at noon, when it 
did not rain, as I found it was called when 
the heavens poured forth its waters. This 
frequently took place; but a high wind 
quickly dried the earth, and the season be- 
came far more pleasant than it had been. 

"My mode of life in my hovel was uni- 
form. During the morning, I attended 
the motions of the cottagers; and when 
they were dispersed in various occupations 
I slept: the remainder of the day was 
spent in observing my friends. When 
they had retired to rest, if there was any 


moon, or the night was starli^t, I went 
into the woods, and collected my own 
food and fuel for the cottage. When I 
returned, as often as it was necessary, I 
cleared their path from the snow, and per- 
formed those offices that I had seen done 
by Felix. I afterwards found that these 
labors, performed by an invisible hand, 
greatly astonished them; and once or twice 
I heard them, on these occasions, utter 
the words good spirit, wonderful; but I 
did not then understand the signification 
of these terms. 

"My thoughts now j^ecame more active, 
and I longed to discover the motives and 
feelings of these lovely creatures; I was 
inquisitive to know why Felix appeared 
so miserable and Agatha so sad. I 
thought (fpolidi wretch!) that it might 
be in my power to restore happiness to 
these deserving pwple. When I slept, or 
was absent, the forms of the venerable 
blind father, the gentle Agatha, and tfie 
excellent Felix flitted before me. I locked 
upon them as superior beings, who would 
be the arbiters of my future destiny. I 
formed in my imagination a thousand pic- 
tures of presenting myself to them, and 
their reception of me. I imagined that 
they would be disgusted, until, by my 
gentle demeanor and conciliating words, I 
should first win their favor, and after- 
ward* their love. 

"These thoughts exhilarated me, and 
led me to apply with fresh ardor to the 
acquiring the art of language. My organs 
were indeed harsh, but supple; and al- 
though my voice was very unlike the soft 
music of their tones, yet I pronounced 
such words as I understood with tolerable 
ease. 

"The pleasant showers and genial 
warmth of spring greatly altered the 
aspect of the earth. Men, who before ffiis 
change seemed to have been hid in caves, 
dispersed themselves, and were employed 
in various arts of cultivation. The birds 


276 


WEIRD TALES 


sang in more cheerful notes, and the 
leaves began to bud forth on the trees. 
Happy, happy earth! fit habitation for 
gods, which, so short a time before, was 
bleak, damp, and unwholesome. My 
spirits were elevated by the enchanting 
appearance of nature; the past was blotted 
from my memory, the present was tran- 
quil, and the future gilded by bright rays 
of hope and anticipations of joy. 

CHAPTER 13 

“T NOW hasten to the more moving part 
A of my story. I shall relate events that 
impressed me with feelings which, from 
what I had been, have made me what I 
am. 

"Spring advanced rapidly; the weather 
became fine, and the skies cloudless. It 
surprized me that what before was desert 
and gloomy should now bloom with the 
most beautiful flowers and verdure. My 
senses were gratified and refreshed by a 
thousand scents of delight, and a thou- 
sand sights of beauty. 

"It was on one of these days, when my 
cottagers periodically rested from labor — 
the old man played on his guitar, and the 
children listened to him — that I observed 
the countenance of Felix was melancholy 
beyond expression; he sighed frequently; 
and once his father paused in his music, 
and I conjectured by his manner that he 
inquired the cause of his son’s sorrow. 
Felix replied in a cheerful accent, and the 
old man was recommencing his music 
when some one tapped at the door. 

"It was a lady on horseback, accom- 
panied by a coimtryman as a guide. The 
lady was dressed in a dark suit, and cov- 
ered with a thick black veil. Agatha asked 
a question; to which the stranger only re- 
pEed by pronouncing, in a sweet accent, 
the name of Felix. Her voice was mu-, 
sical, but unlike that of either of my 
friends. On hearing this word, Felix came 


up hastily to the lady; who, when she saw 
him, threw up her veil, and I beheld a 
countenance of angelic beauty and ex- 
pression. Her hair was of a shining raven 
black, and curiously braided; her eyes 
were dark, but gentle, although animated; 
her features of a regular proportion, and 
her complexion wondrously fair, each 
cheek tinged with a lovely pink. 

"Felix seemed ravished with delight 
when he saw her, every trait of sorrow 
vanished from his face, and it instantly 
expressed a degree of ecstatic joy, of 
which I could hardly have believed it 
capable; his eyes sparkled as his cheek 
flushed with pleasure; and at that moment 
I thought him as beautiful as the stranger. 
She appeared affected by different feel- 
ings; wiping a few tears from her lovely 
eyes, she held out her hand to Felix, who 
kissed it rapturously, and called her, as 
well as I could distinguish, his sweet 
Arabian. She did not appear to under- 
stand him, but smiled. 

"He assisted her to dismount, and dis- 
missing her guide, conducted her into the 
cottage. Some conversation took place be- 
tween him and his father; and the young 
stranger knelt at the old man’s feet, and 
would have kissed his hand, but he raised 
her, and embraced her affectionately. 

"I soon perceived that, although the 
stranger uttered articulate soimds, and ap- 
peared to have a language of her own, 
she was neither understood by, nor her- 
self understood, the cottagers. They made 
many signs which I did not comprehend; 
but I saw that her presence diffused glad- 
ness through the cottage, dispelling their 
sorrow as the sun dissipates the morning 
mists. Felix seemed peculiarly happy, and 
with smiles of delight welcomed his 
Arabian. Agatha, the ever-gentle Agatha, 
kissed the hands of the lovely stranger; 
and, pointing to her brother, made signs 
which appeared to me to mean that he had 
been sorrowful until she came. 


FRANKENSTEIN 


277 


"Some hours passed thus, while they, 
by their countenances, expressed joy, the 
cause of which I did not comprehend. 
Presently I found, by the frequent recur- 
rence of some sound which the stranger 
repeated after them, that she was endeav- 
oring to learn their language; and the idea 
instantly occurred to me that I should 
make use of the same instructions to the 
same end. The stranger learned about 
twenty words at the first lesson; most of 
them, indeed, were those which I had be- 
fore understood, but I profited by the 
others. 

"As night came on, Agatha and the 
Arabian retired early. When they sepa- 
rated, Felix kissed the hand of the 
stranger, and said, 'Good night, sweet 
Safie.’ He sat up much longer, conversing 
with his father; and, by the frequent repe- 
tition of her name, I conjectured that 
their lovely guest was the subject of their 
conversation. I ardently desired to under- 
stand them, and bent every faculty to- 
wards that purpose, but found it utterly 
impossible. 

"The next morning Felix went out to 
his work; and, after the usual occupations 
of Agatha were finished, the Arabian sat 
at the feet of the old man, and, taking his 
guitar, played some airs so entrancingly 
beautiful that they at once drew tears of 
sorrow and delight from my eyes. She 
sang, and her voice flowed in a rich ca- 
dence, swelling or dying away, like a 
nightingale of the woods. 

"When she had finished, she gave the 
guitar to Agatha, who at first declined it. 
She played a simple air, and her voice ac- 
companied it in sweet accents, but unlike 
the wondrous strain of the stranger. The 
old man appeared enraptured, and said 
some words, which Agatha endeavored to 
explain to Safie, and by which he ap- 
peared to wish to express that she be- 
stowed on him the greatest delight by her 
music. 


HE days now passed as peaceably as 

A before, with the sole alteration that 
joy had taken place of sadness in the 
countenances of my friends. Safie was al- 
ways gay and happy; she and I improved 
rapidly in the knowledge of language, so 
that in two months I began to compre- 
hend most of the words uttered by my 
protectors. 

"In the meanwhile also the black 
ground was covered with herbage, and 
the green banks interspersed with innum- 
erable flowers, sweet to the scent and the 
eyes, stars of pale radiance among the 
moonlight woods; the sun became warm- 
er, the nights clear and balmy; and my 
nocturnal rambles were an extreme pleas- 
ure to me, although they were considera- 
bly shortened by the late setting and early 
rising of the sun; for I never ventured 
abroad during daylight, fearful of meet- 
ing with the same treatment I had for- 
merly endured in the first village which I 
entered. 

"My days were spent in close atten- 
tion, that I might more speedily master 
the language; and I may boast that I im- 
proved more rapidly than the Arabian, 
who understood very little, and conversed 
in broken accents, whilst I comprehended 
and could imitate almost every word that 
was spoken. 

"While I improved in speech, I also 
learned the science of letters, as it was 
taught to the stranger; and this opened 
before me a wide field for wonder and 
delight. 

"The book from which Felix instructed 
Safie was Volney’s 'Ruins of Empires. I 
should not have understood the purport 
of this book, had not Felix, in reading it, 
given very minute explanations. He had 
chosen this work, he said, because the 
declamatory style was framed in imitation 
of the eastern authors. Through this work 
I obtained a cursory knowledge of history, 
and a view of the several empires at pres- 


278 


.WEIRD TALES 


ent existing in the world; it gave me an 
insight into the manners, governments, 
and religions of the different nations of 
the earth, I heard of the slothful Asiatics; 
of the stupendous genius and mental ac- 
tivity of the Grecians; of the v.'ars and 
wonderful virtue of the early Romans — 
of their subsequent degenerating — of the 
decline of that mighty empire; of chivalry, 
Christianity, and kings. I heard of the 
discovery of the American hemisphere, 
and wept with Safie over the hapless fate 
of its original inhabitants. 

"Tliese wonderful narrations inspired 
me with strange feelings. Was man, in- 
deed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and 
magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He 
appeared at one time a mere scion of the 
evil principle, and at another as all that 
can be conceived of noble and god-like. 
To be a great and virtuous man appeared 
die highest honor that can befall a sensi- 
tive being; to be base and vicious, as many 
on record have been, appeared the lowest 
degradation, a condition more abject than 
that of the blind mole or harmless worm. 
For a long time I could not conceive hov/ 
one man could go forth to murder his fel- 
low, or even why there were laws and 
governments; but when I heard details of 
vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, 
and I turned away with disgust and loath- 
ing. 

"Every conversation of the cottagers 
now opened new wonders to me. While I 
listened to the instructions which Felix 
bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange 
system of human society was explained to 
me. I heard of the division of property, 
of immense wealth and squalid poverty; 
of rank, descent, and noble blood. 

"The words induced me to turn to- 
wards myself. I learned that the posses- 
sions most esteemed by your fellow- 
aeatures were high and unsullied descent 
united with riches. A man might be re- 


spected with only one of these advantages; 
but, without either, he was considered, 
except in very rare instances, as a vaga- 
bond and a slave, doomed to waste his 
powers for the profits of the chosen fewl 
And what was I? Of my creation and 
creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I 
knew that I possessed no money, no 
friends, no kind of property. I was, be- 
sides, endued with a figure hideously de- 
formed and loathsome; I was not even of 
the same nature as man. I was more agile 
than they, and could subsist upon coarser 
diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold 
with less injury to my frjune; my stature 
far exceeded theirs. When I locked 
around, I saw and heard of ncme like me. 
Was I then a monster, a blot upon the 
earth, from which all men fled, and whom 
all men disowned? 

“T CAN not describe to you the agony 
i that these reflections inflicted upon 
me: I tried to dispel them, but sorrow 
only increased with knowledge. Oh, that 
I had for ever remained in my native 
wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sen- 
sations of hunger, thirst, and heat! 

"Of what a strange nature is knowl- 
edge! It clings to the mind, when it has 
once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. 
I wished sometimes to shake off all 
thought and feeling; but I learned that 
there was but one means to overcome the 
sensation of pain, and that was death — a 
state which I feared yet did not under- 
stand. I admired virtue and good feel- 
ings, and loved the gentle manners and 
amiable qualities of my cottagers; but I 
was shut out from intercourse with them, 
except through means which I obtained 
by stealth, when I was unseen and 
unknown, and which rather increased 
than satisfied the desire I had of becom- 
ing one among my fellows. The gentle 
words of Agatha, and the animated saailes 


FRANKENSTEIN 


279 


of the charming Arabian, were not for 
me. The mild exhortations of the old 
man, and the lively conversation of the 
loved Felix, were not for me. Miserable, 
unhappy wretch! 

"Other lessons were impressed upon 
me even more deeply. I heard of the dif- 
ference of sexes; and the birth and 
growth of children; how the father doted 
on the smiles of the infant, and the lively 
sallies of the older child; how all the life 
and cares of the mother were wrapped up 
in the precious charge; how the mind of 
youth expanded and gained knowledge; 
of brother, sister, and all the various re- 
lationships which bind one human being 
to another in mutual bonds. 

"But where were my friends and rela- 
tions? No father had watched my infant 
days, no mother had blessed me with 
smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my 
past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy 
in which I distinguished nothing. From 
my earliest remembrance I had been as I 
then was in height and proportion. I had 
never yet seen a being resembling me, or 
who claimed any intercourse with me. 
What was I? 

"I will soon explain to what these feel- 
ings tended; but allow me now to return 
to the cottagers, whose story excited in me 
such various feelings of indignation, de- 
light, and wonder, but which all termi- 
nated in additional love and reverence for 
my protectors (for so I loved, in an inno- 
cent, half-painful self-deceit, to call 
them). 

CHAPTER 14 

“^OME time elapsed before I learned 
•3 the history of my friends. It was one 
which could not fail to impress itself 
deeply on my mind, unfolding as it did 
a number of circumstances, each interest- 
ing and wonderful to one so utterly inex- 
perienced as I was. 


"The name of the old man was De 
Lacey. He was descended from a good 
family in France, where he had lived for 
many years in afiSuence, respected by his 
superiors and beloved by his equals. His 
son was bred in the service of his country; 
and Agatha had ranked with ladies of the 
highest distinction. A few months before 
my arrival they had lived in a large and 
luxurious city called Paris, surrounded by 
friends, and possessed of every enjoyment 
which virtue, refinement of intellect, or 
taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, 
could afford. 

"The father of Safie had been the cause 
of their ruin. He was a Turkish merchant, 
and had inhabited Paris for many years, 
when, for some reason which I could not 
learn, he became obnoxious to the govern- 
ment. He was seized and cast into prison 
the very day that Safie arrived from Con- 
stantinople to join him. He was tried and 
condemned to death. The injustice of his 
sentence was very flagrant; all Paris was 
indignant; and it was judged that his re- 
ligion and wealth, rather than the crime 
alleged against him, had been the cause 
of his condemnation. 

"Felix had accidentally been present at 
the trial; his horror and indignation were 
uncontrollable when he heard the decision 
of the court. He made, at that moment, a 
solemn vow to deliver him, and then 
looked around for the means. After many 
fruitless attempts to gain admittance to 
the prison, he found a strongly grated 
window in an unguarded part of the 
building which lighted the dungeon of 
the unfortunate Mahometan; who, loaded 
with chains, waited in despair the execu- 
tion of the barbarous sentence. 

"Felix visited the grate at night, and 
made known to the prisoner his intentions 
in his favor. The Turk, amazed and de- 
lighted, endeavored to kindle the zeal of 
his deliverer by promises of reward and 
wealth. Felix rejected his offers with con- 


280 


WEIRD TALES 


tempt; yet when he saw the lovely Safie, 
who was allowed to visit her father, and 
who, by her gestures, expressed her lively 
gratitude, the youth could not help own- 
ing to his own mind that the captive pos- 
sessed a treasure which would fully re- 
ward his toil and hazard. 

"The Turk quickly perceived the im- 
pression that his daughter had made on 
the heart of Felix, and endeavored to se- 
cure him more entirely in his interests by 
the promise of her hand in marriage, so 
soon as he should be conveyed to a place 
of safety. Felix was too delicate to ac- 
cept this offer; yet he looked forv'ard to 
the probability of the event as to the con- 
summation of his happiness. 

"During the ensuing days, while the 
preparations were going forward for the 
escape of the merchant, the zeal of Felix 
was warmed by several letters that he re- 
ceived from this lovely girl, who found 
means to express her thoughts in the 
language of her lover by the aid of an old 
man, a ser\’ant of her father, who under- 
stood French. She thanked him in the 
most ardent terms for his intended serv- 
ices towards her parent; and at the same 
time she gently deplored her own fate. 

"Safie related that her mother was a 
Qiristian Arab, seized and made a slave 
by the Turks; tecommended by her 
beauty, she had won the heart of the 
father of Safie, who married her. The 
young girl spoke in high and enthusiastic 
terms of her mother, who, born in free- 
dom, spurned the bondage to whidi she 
was now reduced. She instructed her 
daughter in the tenets of her religion, and 
taught her to aspire to higher powers of 
intellect, and an independence of spirit, 
forbidden to the female followers of Ma- 
homet. 

“This lady died; but her lessons were 
indelibly impressed on the mind of Safie, 
who sickened at the prospect of again re- 
turning to Asia and being immured with- 


in the walls of a harem, allowed only to 
occupy herself with infantile amusements, 
ill suited to the temper of her soul, now 
accustomed to grand ideas and a noble 
emulation for virtue. The prospect of 
marrying a Qiristian, and remaining in a 
country where women were allowed to 
take a rank in society, was enchanting to 
her. 

"The day for the execution of the Turk 
was fixed; but, on the night previous to 
it, he quitted his prison, and before morn- 
ing was distant many leagues from Paris. 
Felix had procured passports in the name 
of his father, sister, and himself. He had 
previously communicated his plan to the 
former, who aided the deceit by quitting 
his house, under the pretense of a jour- 
ney, and concealed himself, with his 
daughter, in an obscure part of Paris. 

“T7 eldc conducted the fugitives throu^ 
JT France to Lyons, and across Mont 
Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant 
had decided to wait a favorable oppor- 
tunily of passing into some part of the 
Turkish dominions. 

"Safie resolved to remain with her 
father until the moment of his departure, 
before which time the Turk renewed his 
promise that she should be united to his 
deliverer; and Felix remained with them 
in expectation of that event; and in the 
meantime he enjoyed the society of the 
Arabian, who exhibited towards him the 
simplest and tenderest affection. They 
conversed with one another through the 
means of an interpreter, and sometimes 
with the interpretation of looks; and Safie 
sang to him the divine airs of her native 
country. 

"The Turk allowed this intimacy to 
take place, and encouraged the hopes of 
the youthful lovers, while in his heart he 
had formed far other plans. He loathed 
the Idea that his daughter should be 


FRANKENSTEIN 


281 


united to a Qiristian; but he feared the 
resentment of Felix, if he should appear 
lukewarm; for he knew that he was still 
in the power of his deliverer, if he should 
choose to betray him to the Italian state 
which they inhabited. He revolved a thou- 
sand plans by which he should be enabled 
to prolong the deceit until it might be no 
longer necessary, and secretly to take his 
daughter with him when he departed. His 
plans were facilitated by the news which 
arrived from Paris. 

"The government of France were 
greatly enraged at the escape of their vic- 
tim, and spared no pains to detect and 
punish his deliverer. The plot of Felix 
was quickly discovered, and De Lacey and 
Agatha were thrown into prison. The 
news reached Felix, and roused him from 
his dream of pleasure. His blind and 
aged father, and his gentle sister, lay in a 
noisome dungeon, while he enjoyed the 
free air and the society of her whom he 
loved. This idea was torture to him. He 
quickly arranged with the Turks that if 
the latter should find a favorable oppor- 
tunity for escape before Felix could re- 
turn to Italy, Safie should remain as a 
boarder at a convent at Leghorn; and then, 
quitting the lovely Arabian, he hastened 
to Paris, and delivered himself up to the 
vengeance of the law, hoping to free De 
Lacey and Agatha by this proceeding. 

"He did not succeed. They remained 
confined for five months before the trial 
took place; the result of which deprived 
them of their fortune, and condemned 
them to a perpetual exile from their na- 
tive country. 

"They found a miserable asylum in the 
cottage in Germany where I discovered 
them. Felix soon learned that the treach- 
erous Turk, for whom he and his family 
endured such unheard-of oppression, on 
discovering that his deliverer was thus re- 
duced to poverty and ruin, became a trai- 
tor to good feeling and honor, and had 


quitted Italy with his daughter, insult- 
ingly sending Felix a pittance of money, 
to aid him, as he said, in some plan of 
future maintenance. 

"Such were the events that preyed qn 
the heart of Felix, and rendered him, 
when I first saw him, the most miserable 
of his family. He could have endured 
poverty; and while this distress had been 
the meed of his virtue, he gloried in it: 
but the ingratitude of the Turk, and the 
loss of his beloved Safie, were misfortunes 
more bitter and irreparable. The arrival 
of the Arabian now infused new life into 
his soul. 

"When the news reached Leghorn that 
Felix was deprived of his wealth and rank, 
the merchant commanded his daughter to 
think no more of her lover, but to prepare 
to return to her native country. The gen- 
erous nature of Safie was outraged by this 
command; she attempted to expostulate 
with her father, but he left her angrily, 
reiterating his tyrannical mandate. 

"A few days after, the Turk entered his 
daughter’s apartment, and told her hastily 
that he had reason to believe that his resi- 
dence at Leghorn had been divulged, and 
that he should speedily be delivered up to 
the French government; he had, conse- 
quently, hired a vessel to convey him to 
Constantinople, for which city he should 
sail in a few hours. He intended to leave 
his daughter under the care of a confiden- 
tial servant, to follow at her leisure with 
the greater part of his property, which 
had not yet arrived at Leghorn. 

"When alone, Safie resolved in her own 
mind the plan of conduct that it would 
become her to pursue in this emergency. 
A residence in Turkey was abhorrent to 
her; her religion and her feelings were 
alike adverse to it. By some papers of her 
father, which fell into her hands, she 
heard of the exile of her lover, and learnt 
tlie name of the spot where he then re- 
sided. She hesitated some time, but at 


282 


WEIRD TALES 


length she formed her determination. 
Taking with her some jewels that be- 
longed to her, and a sum of money, she 
quitted Italy with an attendant, a native 
of Leghorn, but who understood the com- 
mon language of Turkey, and departed 
for Germany. 

"She arrived in safety at a town about 
twenty leagues from the cottage of De 
Lacey, when her attendant fell danger- 
ously ill. Safie nursed her with the most 
devoted affection; but the poor girl died, 
and the Arabian was left alone, unac- 
quainted with the language of the coun- 
try, and utterly ignorant of the customs of 
the world. She fell, however, into good 
hands. The Italian had mentioned the 
name of the spot for which they were 
bound; and, after her death, the woman 
of the house in which they had lived took 
care that Safie should arrive in safety at 
the cottage of her lover. 

CHAPTER 15 

“ ^ UCH was the history of my beloved 
>3 cottagers. It impressed me deeply. I 
learned, from the views of social life 
which it developed, to admire their vir- 
tues, and to deprecate the vices of man- 
kind. 

"As yet I looked upon crime as a dis- 
tant evil; benevolence and generosity were 
ever present before me, inciting within me 
a desire to become an actor in the busy 
scene where so many admirable qualities, 
were called forth and displayed. But, in 
giving an account of the progress of my 
intellect, I must not omit a circumstance 
which occurred in the beginning of the 
month of August of the same year. 

"One night, during my accustomed 
visit to the neighboring wood, where I 
collected my own food, and brought home 
firing for my protectors, I found on the 
ground a leathern portmanteau, contain- 
ing several articles of dress and some 


books. I eagerly seized the prize, and re- 
turned with it to my hovel. Fortunately 
the books were written in the language 
the elements of which I had acquired at 
the cottage; they consisted of Paradise 
Lost, a volume of Plutarch’s Lives, and 
the Sorrows of Werther. The possession 
of these treasures gave me extreme de- 
light; I now continually studied and ex- 
ercised my mind upon these histories, 
whilst my friends were employed in their 
ordinary occupations. 

"I can hardly describe to you the effect 
of these books. They produced in me an 
infinity of new images and feelings that 
sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more 
frequently sunk me into the lowest de- 
jection. In the Sorrows of Werther, be- 
sides the interest of its simple and affect- 
ing story, so many opinions are canvassed, 
and so many lights thrown upon what 
had hitherto been to me obscure subjects, 
that I found in it a never-ending source of 
speculation and astonishment. The gentle 
and domestic manners it described, com- 
bined with lofty sentiments and feelings, 
which had for their object something out 
of self, accorded well with my experience 
among my protectors, and with the wants 
which were for ever alive in my own 
bosom. But I thought Werther himself a 
more divine being than I had ever beheld 
or imagined; his character contained no 
pretension, but it sunk deep. The dis- 
quisitions upon death and suicide were 
calculated to fill me with wonder. 

"As I read, however, I applied much 
personally to my own feelings and con- 
dition. I found myself similar, yet at the 
same time strangely imlike to the beings 
concerning whom I read, and to whose 
conversation I was a listener. I sympa- 
thized with, and partly understood them, 
but I was unformed in mind; I was de- 
pendent on none and related to none. 
'The path of my departure was free;’ and 
there was none to lament my annihilation. 


FRANKENSTEIN 


283 


My person was hideous and my stature 
gigantic What did this mean? Who 
was I? What was I? Whence did I come? 
What w'as my destination? These ques- 
tions continually recurred, but I was un- 
able to solve them. 

"The volume oif lutarch/ s Lives, 

I possessed, contained the histories of the 
first founders of the ancient republics. 
This book had a far different effect upon 
me from the Sorrows of Werther. I 
learned from Werther’s imaginations 
despondency and gloom: but Plutarch 
taught me high thoughts; he elevated me 
above the wretched sphere of my own re- 
flections to admire and love the heroes of 
past ages. 

"Many things I read surpassed my un- 
derstanding and experience. I had a very 
confused knowledge of kingdoms, wide 
extents of country, mighty rivers, and 
boundless seas. But I was perfectly unac- 
quainted with towns, and large assem- 
blages of men. The cottage of my pro- 
tectors had been the only school in which 
I had studied human nature; but this book 
developed new and mightier scenes of 
action. I read of men concerned in public 
affairs, governing or massacring their 
species. I felt the greatest ardor for vir- 
tue rise within me, and abhorrence for 
vice, as far as I understood the significa- 
tion of those terms, relative as they were, 
as I applied them, to pleasure and pain 
alone. Induced by these feelings, I was 
of course led to admire peaceable law- 
givers, Numa, Solon, and Lycurgus, in 
preference to Romulus and Theseus. The 
patriardial lives of my protectors caused 
these impressions to take a firm hold on 
my mind; perhaps, if my first introduction 
to humanity had been made by a young 
soldier, burning for glory and slaughter, 
I should have been imbued with different 
sensations. 

"But Paradise Lusst excited different 
and far deeper emotions. I read it, as I 


had read the other volumes which had 
fallen into my hands, as a true history. It 
moved every feeling of wonder and awe 
that the picture of an omnipotent God 
warring with his creatures was capable of 
exciting. I often referred the several situ- 
ations, as their similarity struck me, to my 
own. Like Adam, I was apparently united 
by no link to any other being in existence; 
but his .state was far different from mine 
in every other respect. He had come forth 
from the hands of God a perfect creature, 
happy and prosperous, guarded by the 
especial care of his Creator; he was al- 
lowed to converse with, and acquire 
knowledge from, beings of a superior na- 
ture; but I was wretched, helpless, and 
alone. 

"Another circumstance strengthened 
and confirmed these feelings. Soon after 
my arrival in the hovel, I discovered some 
papers in the pocket of the dress which I 
had taken from your laboratory. At first 
I had neglected them; but now that I was 
able to decipher the characters in which 
they were written, I began to study them 
with diligence. It was your journal of the 
four months that preceded my creation. 
You minutely described in these papers 
every step you took in the progress of your 
work; this history was mingled with ac- 
counts of domestic occurrences. You, 
doubtless, recollect these papers. Here 
they are. Everything is relat^ in them 
which bears reference to my accursed 
origin; the whole detail of that series of 
disgusting circumstances which produced 
it is set in view; the minutest descrip- 
tion of my odious and loathsome per- 
son is given, in language which painted 
your own horrors and rendered mine in- 
delible. 

"I sickened as I read. 'Hateful day 
when I received life!’ I exclaimed in 
agony. 'Accursed creator! Why did you 
form a monster so hideous that even you 
turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, 


284 


WEIRD TALES 


made man beautiful and alluring, after 
his own image; but my form is a filthy 
type of yours, more horrid even from the 
very resemblance. Satan had his compan- 
ions, fellow-devils, to admire and encour- 
age him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’ 

HESE were the reflections of my 

A hours of despondency and solitude; 
but when I contemplated the virtues of 
the cottagers, their amiable and benevo- 
lent dispositions, I persuaded myself that 
when they should become acquainted with 
my admiration of their virtues, they 
would compassionate me, and overlook 
my personal deformity. Could they turn 
from their door one, however monstrous, 
who solicited their compassion and 
friendship? I resolved at least, not to 
despair, but in every way to fit myself for 
an interview with them which would de- 
cide my fate. 

"I postponed this attempt for some 
months longer; for the importance at- 
tached to its success inspired me with a 
dread lest I should fail. Besides, I found 
that my understanding improved so much 
with every day’s experience that I was un- 
willing to commence this undertaking 
until a few more months should have 
added to my sagacity. 

"Several changes, in the meantime, 
took place in the cottage. ’The presence 
of Safie diffused happiness among its in- 
habitants; and I also found that a greater 
degree of plenty reigned there. Felix and 
Agatha spent more time in amusement 
and conversation, and were assisted in 
their labors by servants. 'They did not ap- 
pear rich, but they were contented and 
happy; their feelings were serene and 
peaceful, while mine became every day 
more tumultuous. Increase of knowledge 
only discovered to me more clearly what a 
wretched outcast I was. I cherished hope, 
it is true; but it vanished when I beheld 
my person reflected in water, 


"I endeavored to crush these fears, and 
to fortify myself for the trial which in a 
few months I resolved to undergo; and 
sometimes I allowed my thoughts, un- 
checked by reason, to ramble in the fields 
of Paradise, and dared to fancy amiable 
and lovely creatures sympathizing with 
my feelings, and cheering my gloom; their 
angelic countenances breathed smiles of 
consolation. But it was all a dream; no 
Eve soothed my sorrows, nor shared my 
thoughts; I was alone. I remembered 
Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But 
where was mine? He had abandoned me: 
and, in the bitterness of my heart, I cursed 
him. 

"Autumn passed thus. I saw, with 
surprize and grief, the leaves decay and 
fall, and nature again assume the barren 
and bleak appearance it had worn when I 
first beheld the woods and the lovely 
moon. Yet I did not heed the bleakness 
of the weather; I was better fitted by my 
conformation for the endurance of cold 
than heat. But my chief delights were the 
sight of the flowers, the birds, and all the 
gay apparel of summer; when those de- 
serted me, I turned with more attention 
towards the cottagers. 'Their happiness 
was not decreased by the absence of sum- 
mer. They loved, and sympathized with 
one another; and their joys, depending on 
each other, were not interrupted by the 
casualties that took place around them. 
The more I saw of them, the greater be- 
came my desire to claim their protection 
and kindness; my heart yearned to be 
known and loved by these amiable crea- 
tures: to see their sweet looks directed 
towards me with affection was the utmost 
limit of my ambition. I dared not think 
that they would turn them from me with 
disdain and horror. 'The poor that stopped 
at their door were never driven away. 

"The winter advanced, and an entire 
revolution of the seasons had taken place 
(Phase turn to page 286 ) 


Coming Next Month 

A S SARDANAPALUS, King of Babylon, had feasted with his Magi, and women* 
and favorites, and all the sycophants of a fabulously wealthy court, so did Prince 
jL Dena ibn Zodh, in his black and scarlet robes of ceremony, sit with Evadne at 
his side on the night of sacrifice. 

Wild beasts, controlled by the magnetic power of the Magi, rolled in luxurious ease 
on silken rugs; the great tables gleamed with jewelled goblets and golden dishes; a 
thousand instruments mingled with the clamor of a thousand tongues ; waves of intoxi- 
cating perfumes were wafted up from vaults beneath the palace; myriads of lamps 
winked and blazed from roof and walls and pillars. At intervals a dancer would float 
out on to the great white marble circle of floor, round which the tables were grouped, 
veiled only in her cloud of hair, and moving like a blown leaf before the wind would 
draw an outburst of applause that set the great beasts roaring until the domed hall rang. 

Vast, sinister, marvellous as the dreams of a hashish-eater, the long orgy at last drew 
to an end. The revellers lay back amidst their cushions, while Prince Dena rose from 
his place and led Evadne to the center of the enclosed circle. 

He held up a hand, and silence fell over the entire multitude of feasters ; not even a 
beast but seemed suddenly turned to a lifeless statue. Sir Hugh Willett and Hadur, 
who had sat watchful and silent during the long revel, looked up with tightening nerves 
as the destined Bride stood facing the vast assembly. 

A single garment of marvellously wrought gold tissue outlined her lovely slender- 
ness. Her shining head was bound with a richly jewelled circlet of gold, and over her 
eyes its clasp glittered bright and evil in the myriads of lamps. So brilliant were the 
gems that formed this clasp that it had all the effea of a living flame, and Sir Hu^ 
shuddered as he saw the hatefully familiar symbol of Melek Taos flash, and flash again 
about Evadne’s dreaming misted eyes. 

"The Hour is at hand !" the High Priest’s ringing tones pierced even the wine-sod- 
den senses of the revellers. "This is my Hour, my Hour of love, my Hour of fulfilment, 
the Hour of mystic communion with Melek Taos, when he in me, and I in him, re- 
joice in the Bride! . . . 

This vivid narrative of the devil-worshipping Yezidees will be printed complete 
in our next issue. Order your copy now at your favorite news stand. 

THE ALTAR OF MELEK TAOS 


By G. G. PENDARVES 

— ALSO— 


THE EMPIRE OF THE NECROMANCERS 
By Clakk Ashton Smith 
An endless army of plague-eaten bodies, of tat- 
tered skeletons, poured in ghastly torrents through 
the streets of the city. 

THE EYE OF TRUTH 
By Abxton Eadib 

A fascinating story of a Greek who found strange 
powers in the ruins of a temple in Bceotia. 

THE RAVENING MONSTER 
By Harold Ward 

A shuddery story about an electrocuted murderer 
who was raised from the dead and revivified. 


THE LAST OF PLACIDE’S WIFE 
By Kirk Mashburn 

A thrill-tale of a fierce and bloody fight in n 
Louisiana swamp between a maddened group efl 
Cajuns and a horde of vampires. 

THE SHERATON MIRROR 
By August W. Derleth 
The story of a strange and unearthly revenge ac- 
complished from beyond the grave. 

Also, another thrilling installment of Prankem* 
stein, and Victor Rousseau’s exciting story, Tb4 
Phantom Hand. 


September WEIRD TALES Out August 1 

28S 


286 


WEIRD TALES 


( Continued from page 284 ) 

since I awoke into life. My attention, at 
this time, was solely directed towards my 
plan of introducing myself into the cot- 
tage of my protectors. I revolved many 
projects; but that on which I finally fixed 
was, to enter the dwelling when the blind 
old man should be alone. I had sagacity 
enough to discover that the unnatural 
hideousness of my person was the chief 
object of horror with those who had for- 
merly beheld me. My voice, although 
harsh, had nothing terrible in it; I 
thought, therefore, that if, in the absence 
of his children, I could gain the good-will 
and mediation of the old De Lacey, I 
might by this means, be tolerated by my 
younger protectors. 

"One day, when the sun shone on the 
red leaves that strewed the ground, and 
diffused cheerfulness, although it denied 
warmth, Safie, Agatha, and Felix departed 
on a long country walk, and the old man, 
at his own desire, was left alone in the 
cottage. When his children had departed, 
he took up his guitar, and played several 
mournful but sweet airs, more sweet and 
mournful than I had ever heard him play 
before. At first his countenance was illu- 
minated with pleasure, but, as he con- 
tinued, thoughtfulness and sadness suc- 
ceeded; at length' laying aside the instru- 
ment, he sat absorbed in reflection. 

"My heart beat quick; this was the hour 
and moment of trial which would decide 
my hopes or realize my fears. The ser- 
vants were gone to a neighboring fair. 
All was silent in and around the cottage: 
it was an excellent opportunity; yet, when 
I proceeded to execute my plan, my limbs 
failed me, and I sank to the ground. 
Again I rose; and, exerting all the firm- 
ness of which I was master, removed the 
planks which I had placed before my hovel 
to conceal my retreat. The fresh air re- 
vived me, and, with renewed determina- 


tion, I approached the door of their cot- 
tage. 

“I knocked. 'Who is there?’ said the 
old man — 'Come in.’ 

"I entered; 'Pardon this intrusion,’ said 
I: 'I am a traveller in want of a little rest; 
you would greatly oblige me if you would 
allow me to remain a few minutes before 
the fire.' 

" 'Enter,’ said De Lacey; 'and I will try 
in what manner I can relieve your wants; 
but, luifortunately, my children are from 
home, and, as I am blind, I am afraid I 
shall find it difficult to procure food for 
you.’ 

" 'Do not trouble yourself, my kind 
host, I have food; it is warmth and rest 
only that I need.’ 

“T SAT down, and a silence ensued. I 
A knew that every minute was precious 
to me, yet I remained irresolute in what 
manner to commence the interview; when 
the old man addressed me 

" 'By your language, stranger, I sup- 
pose you are my countryman; — aie you 
French?' 

" 'No; but I was educated by a French 
family, and understand that language 
only. I am now going to claim the pro- 
tection of some friends, whom I sincerely 
love, and cf whose favor I have some 
hopes.’ 

" 'Are they Germans?’ 

" 'No, they are French. But let us 
change the subject. I am an unfortunate 
and deserted creature; I look around, and 
I have no relation or friend upon earth. 
These amiable people to whom I go have 
never seen me, and know little of me. I 
am full of feaxs; for if I fail there, I am 
an outcast in the world for ever.’ 

" 'Do not despair. To be friendless is 
indeed to be unfortunate; but the hearts of 
men, when unprejudiced by any obvious 
self-interest, are full of brotherly love and 
charity. Rely, therefore, on your hopes; 


WEIRD TALES 


283 


and if these friends are good and amiable, 
do not despair.’ 

" 'They are kind — they are the most ex- 
cellent creatures in the world; but, unfor- 
timately, they are prejudiced against me. 
I have good dispositions; my life has been 
hitherto harmless, and in some degree 
beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds 
their eyes, and where they ought to see a 
feeling and kind friend, they behold only 
a detestable monster.’ 

" "That is indeed xmfortunate; but if 
you are really blameless, can not you un- 
deceive them?’ 

" 'I am about to undertake that task; 
and it is on that account that I feel so 
many overwhelming terrors. I tenderly 
love these friends; I have, unknown to 
them, been for many months in the habits 
of daily kindness towards them; but they 
believe that I wish to injure them, and it 
is that prejudice which I wish to over- 
come.' 

" "Where do these friends reside?’ 

*' 'Near this spot.’ 

"The old man paused, and then con- 
tinued, 'If you will unreservedly confide 
to me the particulars of your tale, I per- 
haps may ^ of use in imdeceiving them. 
I am blind, and can not judge of your 
countenance, but there is something in 
your words which persuades me that you 
are sincere. I am poor, and an exile; but 
it will afford me true pleasure to be in any 
way serviceable to a human creature.’ 

" 'Excellent man! I thank you, and 
accept your generous offer. You raise me 
from the dust by this kindness; and I trust 
that, by your aid, I shall not be driven 
from the society and sympathy of your 
fellow-creatures.’ 

" 'Heaven forbid! even if you were 
really aiminal; for that can only drive you 
to desperation, and not instigate you to 
virtue. I also am unfortunate; I and my 
family have been condemned, although 



” A Uttle Qoat * 

GaTe It* Maine to 

TAXICAB 

Taxkai it to tbbteviation of {aximtur<ab- 
ritUt — a Tchlcle carrying an instrument for 
automatically registering the fate.The name 
caitioht is the diminutiTe of the French eab~ 
rick, meaning "a leap" like that of a goat, 
and was applied to this type of carriage 
because of its light, bounding motion. 
Cairhle came from the Italian eaprioit 
meaning “a aomersault," from Latin capir 
"a he^oaii" tapra "a ahe-goat." There ate 
thousands of such stories about the origins 
of English words in 


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268 


WEIRD TALES 


NEXT MONTH 

The Ravening 
Monster 

By HAROLD WARD 


H ere is a shuddety stoty that will 
put goose-pimples on your flesh 
and send shivers of horripilation up 
your spine. It is the story of an electro- 
cuted murderer who was raised from 
the dead and brought to life by the 
power of science. 

B y a miracle of brain-transplanta- 
tion the wretch is made to live 
again, but he proves to be a veritable 
Frankenstein monster. This story of 
the strange deaths and terrible mutila- 
tions that plunged a whole country- 
side into blind panic makes a narrative 
of absorbing interest. It will be pub- 
lished complete 

in the September issue of 

WEIRD TALES 

On sale August 1st 

To avoid missing your copy, clip and mail this 
coupon today for SPECIAL SUBSCRIPTION 
OFFER. 


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Ol$r — Stofce 


innocent: judge, therefore, if I do not feel 
for your misfortunes.’ 

" 'How can I thank you, my best and 
only benefactor? From your lips first 
have I heard the voice of kindness directed 
towards me; I shall be for ever grateful; 
and your present humanity assures me of 
success with those friends whom I am on 
the point of meeting.’ 

" 'May I know the names and residence 
of those friends?’ 

"I paused. This, I thought, was the 
moment of decision, which was to rob me 
of, or bestow happiness on me for ever. 

I struggled vainly for firmness sufficient to 
answer him, but the effort destroyed ail 
my remaining strength; I sank on the 
chair and sobbed aloud. At that moment I 
heard the steps of my younger protectors. 

I had not a moment to lose; but, seizing 
the hand of the old man, I cried, 'Now is 
the time! — ^save and protect me! You and 
your family are the friends whom I seek. 
Do not you desert me in the hour of trial!’ 

" 'Great God!’ exclaimed the old man, 
'who are you?’ 

"At that instant the cottage door was 
opened, and Felix, Safie, and Agatha en- 
tered. Who can describe their horror and 
consternation on beholding me? Agatha 
fainted; and Safie, unable to attend to her 
friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix 
darted forward, and with supernatural 
force tore me from his father, to whose 
knees I clung: in a transport of fury, he 
dashed me to the ground and struck me 
violently v/ith a stick. I could have t®rn 
him limb from limb, as the lion rends the 
antelope. But my heart sunk within me 
as with bitter sickness, and I refrained. I 
saw him on the point of repeating his 
blow, when, overcome by pain and an- 
guish, I quitted the cottage and in the 
general tumult escaped unperceived to my 
hovel.’’ 

(To be continued next month) 

W. T.— 9 



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pany with assets running into the millions. He CAN’T lose. You are able to show positive 
safety. This means quick sales and big turn-over for you. 


Seeing Is Delieviii^...Mail Coupon for Proo^ 

This Is a business with a future to it. Enormous repeat business. Tremendous profits 
fro-m sub-agents — ^your sub-agents have more margin than total profit on 99 out 
100 other specialties. You get profit on all mail order business from your terri- 
tory. Every customer is a prospect for two or three times the initial amount 
on your second call. Every customer recommends others to you. If you g€ 
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worth while. Just a limited number of openings. Hurry, boys — they 
won’t be left long nowj 

F. E. ARMSTRONG, Pres., Dept. 4060-E, Mobile, Ala, 





A Sinister Voice from the Ether 



Threatened the Lives 
ot all Mankind 

T he first warning of the stupen- 
dous cataclysm that befell the 
earth in the fourth decade of the 
Twentieth Century was recorded 
simultaneously in several parts of 
America. At twelve minutes past 3 
o’clock a. m., during a lull in the 
night’s aerial business, several of 
the larger stations of the Western 
hemisphere began picking up 
strange signals out of the ether. 
They were faint and ghostly, as if 
coming from a vast distance. As 
far as anyone could learn, the sig- 
nals originated nowhere upon the 
earth. It was as if some phantom 
were whispering through the ether 
in the language of another planet. 


Who Was This Dictator of Destiny? 


Y ou will want to know the answer to this 
question. Read "The Moon Terror,” the 
most enthralling fantastic-mystery story of the 
age. And you can get this splendid book 
FREE. 

Special Offer 

For a limited time only, we offer this book 
to you without cost, with each subscription 
to WEIRD TALES for six months. Sim- 
ply send $1.50, the regular six months’ 
subscription price for WEIRD TALES, 
and this book is yours without further 
cost. You receive the magazine for six 


months and this book is sent to you free 
of charge. 

Limited Supply 

This offer may be withdrawn at any time, 
so we advise you to order now. Remember, 
the supply of books is limited. Send today! 

WEIRD TALES 

840 N. Micliigran Ave., I>ept. S-10. Chicago, ni. 

! WEIRD TAX.ES, Dept. S-19, 

I 840 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 111. 

I I enclose $1.60. Send at once, postage prepaid, 
I the book “The Moon Terror.” and enter my sub- 
j scription to WEIRD TALES for six months to 
begin with the September Issue. It is understood this 
I $1.50 is payment in full. 

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